Leonard Zwelling

         We have all heard it a thousand times.

         Tragedy after tragedy greets us on the evening news as
another lunatic with a gun kills a bunch of people and our elected
representatives do nothing. And I mean nothing.

         Personally, I am tired of the GOP attributing this all to
mental illness as the newly bearded Speaker of the House did the morning after. What
a load of crap. Of course anyone who would shoot a bunch of people is either
nuts or at war. I doubt the US has cornered the market on crazy but you rarely
see stories like the ones coming out of Colorado last week and San Bernardino
this week emanating from Western Europe and I am sure they have their share of
crazy people. What’s different about America?

         Guns. Millions of them.

         I went to medical school with a whole host of good ole boys
from North and South Carolina and they went hunting all the time. They did not
use assault rifles or hollow point bullets to bring down the deer and quail and
they actually ate what they killed. (I tried the quail once.  Too gamey for me and I had to watch out for remaining buck shot.) I will also tell you that
the only person from my medical school class to fall victim to gun violence was
Dr. Michael Nathan who went to protest the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro on
November 3, 1979 and was gunned down at the rally.

         It has also come to light that people on the no-fly list
because of concerns they may be terrorists can buy guns legally. That’s

         Of course, the days after Thanksgiving saw a record number
of police background checks because the hot item for Christmas is a firearm.

         This is just sick.

         First, no one but the police need assault weapons. Period.
They should all be made illegal.

         Second, ammunition should not be purchasable through the
mail or via the internet.

         Third, if these gun nuts really believe that their rifles
will protect them from the “government” that has the entire US military at its
disposal, they are even more delusional than I thought they were. I understand
that our nation was born in blood. I understand that the Minutemen were a
militia without which we would all be drinking tea at 4 every day. I get it,
but its 2015 and the world has changed.

         It is simply unacceptable that our elected officials cannot
put a stop to the carnage that seems to be occurring with ever more frequent

         So here are some ideas:

1. If you want a rifle or two to hunt with, great. Enjoy.
Just buy what you need. These all must be under lock and key when not in use.
Violators face jail time as they are endangering others.

2. If you want a few handguns for self-protection or to
pack while you hunt, that’s just fine, too. I am sure under 5 will be enough.
Lock and key for these as well.

3. If you want to buy bullets, go to a store and do so, but you have to register your purchase in a national data base. Ditto gun purchases. If we keep track of cars we can keep track of guns.

4. Every gun purchase, regardless of where it occurs,
must be accompanied by a thorough background check and felons and people on
terrorist watch lists don’t get to buy guns legally. Penalties for not doing
this, for example, at gun shows or with private sales, ought to be stiff and
include jail time.

5. Finally, law enforcement is starting to change its
tune with regard to early responses to active shooting situations. Most of the
time the SWAT team arrives too late. I am afraid I am going to have to agree
with the gun folks who want people of responsibility armed at targets of high
vulnerability like schools, malls and other public arenas. These armed sentries
should be trained like the military and be highly visible. It is clear that we
are at war and in some cases, like the one in San Bernardino, we have met the
enemy and he is us, American citizens. We must introduce a line of defense
against the bad guys even if it means guns on the streets in the hands of the good

6.  Of course, we
need to be more careful about deciding who is a good guy as it appears the
police at times are a bit over zealous in their use of very legal fire power
(see Chicago).

offends me greatly that I have to propose arming guards at public spaces simply
because gun violence is off the charts and the police cannot get there in time.
But these are the facts and our friends in Israel have been living with such
facts for decades. Unfortunately, as many people seem to be dying in the United
States as are in Israel. We need to take some lessons from the Israelis. Now.

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