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Bill Adkins: When it comes to preventing acts of violence, doing nothing is not the answer

What “logic” is there in a circumstance where a problem is recognized, one that delivers tragedy after tragedy, but then concludes that the U.S. constitution does not permit a solution?

No one respects the Second Amendment more than I do. Firearms – guns – are and have been an integral part of American history. From before the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, the Old West to World Wars – hunting, survival, self-defense. As a gun owner, one who collects as well as considers them a tool for home defense, I respect guns. Guns have been and remain a part of our national identity. But times, people and society have changed. Nothing made that more evident than the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., and the senseless slaughter of 20 children, ages 5 to 7 years.

Those of us outside looking in can only imagine the heartache of the parents of Newtown, the families and friends of Aurora, the parents and families of Columbine, of Virginia Tech, those victims of mass shootings in malls in Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri, or the relatives of three people, one of them a 12-year-old girl, killed in a college parking lot at Hazard, Ky., recently – the list goes on and on.

This nation has for decades failed to address significant mental health issues, neglected societal issues and the result is repeated episodes of mass shootings. Those issues coupled with the easy access and availability of firearms present a danger to our citizens that must be addressed. It’s a dilemma and it deserves more than to be shoved aside on the premise our founding fathers would consider any measures to regulate access to firearms a violation of the Second Amendment. It’s time to act to protect our citizens, our children, to limit and prevent acts of violence like Newtown.

There are no easy answers – there are a lot of considerations. I believe banning weapons or their accessories is ineffective and pointless. But doing nothing is not an option. Kentucky did not send representatives to Washington to do nothing, to sit on their hands or to adopt a rigid, unreasonable and shallow interpretation of the Constitution. I believe our representatives should act in our best interests and vote to:

1.) Improve and fund mental health services;
2.) Make sure students and young adults receive treatment for mental health issues:
3.) Ensure coverage of mental health treatment;
4.) End the freeze on gun violence research;
5.) Close background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands:
6.) Require background checks for all gun sales;
7.) Require criminal background checks for all gun sales;
8.) Require a waiting period before purchase of a firearm is concluded;
9.) Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime;
10.) Create serious punishments for gun trafficking;
11.) Help communities across the country keep 15,000 cops on the street;
12.) Take action to help law enforcement avoid returning guns to the wrong hands;
13.) Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime;
14.) Analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement;
15.) Launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign; and
16.) Put up to 1,000 more school resource officers and counselors in schools and help schools invest in safety.

Doing nothing is no solution. Doing nothing perpetuates the problem. Doing nothing is surrender.

Bill Adkins is a attorney in Williamstown and chairman of the Grant County Democratic Executive Committee.

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