Editorial: It’s time to hit the target on gun control


Illustration by Mattheau Faught/The Et Cetera

4 panel comic showing the cultural cycle of gun violence. 1st panel: police cars and do not cross tape. 2nd panel: various tweets from public figures and politicians offering thoughts and prayers. 3rd panel: a politician at a podium saying "now is not the time to have a gun control conversation". 4th panel: Newspapers moving on to other news. A blue arrow points back to the police car gun violence panel with "Repeat" written across it
Illustration by Amanda Araujo/The Et Cetera

After a significant drop in mass shootings during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has already seen more than 100 deadly cases of gun violence, including the recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta.

On April 7, the Biden-Harris Administration announced six initial actions to address the “gun violence public health epidemic.”

These initial actions address “ghost guns,” kits used to make unmarked firearms, and stabilizing braces for pistols. They also encouraged community violence interventions, annual reports of firearms trafficking and “red flag” laws. These would allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they’re a danger to themselves or others.

Also included was the nomination of David Chipman to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015.

We find most of these measures to be logical, but also lacking in detail and objective. We believe these actions do not address the larger problems.

Many of us at The Et Cetera are strong supporters of the right to bear arms, but we also believe that right must be executed with responsibility and common sense.

Why is the Justice Department making plans to address ghost guns when they haven’t even perfected a system for registering legal firearms on a national basis?

For instance, Texas allows for the private sale of firearms between individuals. Many other states allow this also, but most at least require a gun store clerk to act as the middleman throughout the transaction. 

As the law stands now, Texans are legally allowed to find a stranger on the internet, meet that stranger in a Walmart parking lot and instantly buy a gun from that stranger. There is no legal requirement to reregister the gun under the new owner’s name or undergo any sort of background check. Arizona, Oklahoma and a few other states allow this as well.

Due to state laws like this, maintaining a universal national gun registry is close to impossible. Even 52% of National Rifle Association members agree with background checks for private sales and at gun shows, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

We believe that gun violence will continue at the same pace throughout this country until there is some sort of universal registration and federal background check process nationwide.

Alongside a national registry, we also believe in the importance of proper universal training that depends on the class of firearm a person is trying to obtain. We do not necessarily object to an individual’s right to have military grade firearms, but we do object to an untrained individual being in possession of any weapon.

In order for a Texan to obtain a license to carry a handgun, only about 10 minutes of actual range time is required. We find little comfort in the knowledge there are individuals among us with guns they’ve possibly only fired once and hardly know how to use.

Texas is considered a “shall issue” state. What that means is that as long as an applicant meets basic requirements, like being 21-years-old, local law enforcement is mandated to issue a license to carry. This differs from “may issue” states where law enforcement has the discretion to deny an application even if the applicant meets all requirements. We believe there are extenuating circumstances that may mean just because someone is eligible for a firearm does not necessarily mean they should be able to carry one.

To own and carry a firearm is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly and we’re slowly starting to see that the vast difference in regulation between states is having a huge negative impact on the country as a whole.

It’s time for universal, common sense gun laws on a federal basis.