The A-List on Americanism: Gun reform or people reform?

Washington politicians aren't the only ones debating gun policy; Hollywood heavyweight Bruce Willis recently took aim at this issue as well. Photo: Associated Press Photo of "A Good Day To Die Hard" 20th Century FOX Films

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2013 — President Obama recently spoke, surrounded by relatives of the children slaughtered last year in Newtown, from the White House saying: “Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”

He excoriated Congress in his March 28 speech, his sharp retort following comments suggesting that President Obama was dragging his feet on new anti-gun legislation. Critics call the measures he introduced this year unconstitutional, arguing that they violate the Second Amendment.

They consider his actions opportunistic, taking advantage of anti-gun sentiment in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

One politician who did jump on the media tidal wave following the heart-breaking Sandy Hook Elementary School murders was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, who co-chairs the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” coalition, has organized a multi state campaign with more than 120 events designed to push individual states to “demand commonsense reforms” regarding gun violence, marking their “National Day to Demand Action.”

Meanwhile, Second Amendment supporters and the National Rifle Association won a victory on Friday, March 22, when Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he would drop the provision in the Senate’s gun bill banning “assault weapons,” a move that his supporters say upholds Americans’ rights to defend themselves. According to the Second Amendment Foundation “Self Defense is A Human Right.” The Foundation makes the case that the US cities with the highest incidences of gun-related violent crime are in the states with the strictest laws restricting an individual’s right to self-defense by keeping and bearing arms.

Washington politicians aren’t the only ones debating gun policy. NBC News reports that the entertainment aristocrat Tony Bennett and Hollywood superstar Bruce Willis recently chimed in on opposite sides of this issue, with Bennett stating, “I still haven’t gotten over Connecticut … I’d like the assault weapons to go to war, not on our own country, and I’d like assault weapons eliminated.”

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Willis said, “I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone. If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?”

Yesterday, former Rep. Asa Huthchinson (R-Ark) released a 225 page report on school safety.  The report, funded by the NRA recommends properly trained armed employees to provide “an important layer of security in schools.”

“School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution, but I believe trained, qualified armed security is one key component among many,” Hutchinson said, in a press conference unveiling the NRA’s Education and Training Emergency Response Program. Hutchinson saying that gun control does not keep children safe when someone sets out with the desire to harm.  An act that does not necessarily require guns. 

So, do we need gun reform, or people reform? That is, is it guns that kill people or people that kill people? Will restricting the Constitution by making it harder for citizens to exercise their right of gun ownership make us any safer? Will it prevent the perpetrators of violent crimes from illegally obtaining guns? Will stricter gun laws or enhanced background checks stop muggers, bank robbers, or serial killers?

Or will allowing citizens to exercise their right to use guns defend their families and property against muggers, bank robbers and serial killers make us safer?

Some say that enacting stricter gun laws on law-abiding citizens to prevent gun violence is like restricting car ownership to prevent car theft and vehicular homicide. Others argue that the benefits of stricter gun laws are worth any costs, and they leverage the emotions that accompany tragedies like Newtown to make their case.

Americans on Main Street and on Capitol Hill are increasingly skeptical, and public support for gun control has weakened according to polls conducted by CBS News and CNN.

Real solutions will be difficult to find if we as parents, voters, and concerned citizens don’t ask ourselves some tough questions about what we expect gun laws to accomplish, why there is so much gun violence in America, and whether we need more gun reform or people reform.

Who do you agree with most, Tony Bennett or Bruce Willis? Most importantly, why? 

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Rich Valdes

Rich Valdes is a former official in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Administration, an award-winning marketing director, and manager who has led staff and projects for various colleges, state policy initiatives, celebrity entertainers, faith based organizations, and non-profit charities. Rich has run small businesses, created strategic messaging campaigns to increase college student enrollment revenue, and produced high-profile public relations events to raise awareness for various brands.

As a frequent  TV, radio, and print media contributor, Rich's commentary on social issues and popular culture have been featured on Hot 97 FM, CNN Headline News, Telemundo, Univision, HHR and Fox/My9. When not  debating, politics, education, and culture, Rich is a single dad, school board member, and Young Benefactor at VH1 Save The Music Foundation.  Rich attended New York University and is pursuing a Master’s degree at Lincoln University while raising his two young daughters and caring for his elderly father in the New York City suburb of Bergen County, New Jersey. 

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