By Carol Spaziani and Barbara Beaumont
Since Dec. 14, our national attention rightly has been focused on the shooting deaths of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. But deaths from gun violence are not limited to that tragic event.
In our country, 34 victims are murdered with guns every day. Deaths from traffic accidents are dropping while firearm-related fatalities are rising. Americans are more likely to use a firearm in acts of violence than in 16 other developed nations. Gunshot incidents rose 43 percent in Cedar Rapids last year; 22 people were shot, and two died from their injuries.
The League of Women Voters of the United States and Iowa have long-standing positions reached by consensus of our members in support of common-sense gun control. The board of the LWV of Johnson County has reviewed these positions and is in agreement that the time is long overdue to enact sensible gun laws that protect the public.
The state and City of New York have quickly adopted strengthened laws. In Iowa, Johnson County legislators do not expect the General Assembly to take much action, despite new Iowa laws passed in 2011 weakening discretion of county sheriffs in issuing gun permits and allowing open carry of hand guns and long guns. Some local sheriffs believe this has resulted in gun permits being issued to questionable applicants. Somehow, strengthening gun control laws does not appear to be a priority of our state legislature.
If you think our state legislators should look at gun control issues, attend one of the League’s legislative forums held on the last Saturday of each month. Check our website for details and contact information for Johnson County legislators: http://lwvjc.org
On Jan, 15, President Obama issued executive orders addressing improved data collection for background checks for gun permits; improved mental health measures; startup of basic research by the Centers for Disease Control on gun violence as a public health issue (long blocked by Congress and the gun lobby), and many others. He is calling on Congress to require background checks on all gun sales, reinstate a ban on assault weapons, limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, and prohibit armor-piercing bullets, among others.
The LWV is urging measures to ban assault weapons, limit magazine size, close the loophole for buying guns without a background check at gun shows, and mandate annual reporting on gun violence in America. If you agree, contact our representatives in Congress.
Carol Spaziani is vice president and Barbara Beaumont is president of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org