Victoria hunter wants "common sense" gun control

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.
Updated Aug. 20, 2012 at 3:20 a.m.


Gun control may be one of the most volatile public policies in the United States.

While hindsight is 20-20, some people are looking back at recent shootings in Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin and asking what needs to change to prevent another.

Russell Pruitt, a retired Victoria resident, said the country's gun regulations are too lax.

"I saw a billboard for machine gun silencers," Pruitt said. "Who needs a machine gun silencer?"

In Texas, a buyer does not need a state permit to purchase a handgun or a long gun, but must be at least 18 years old to generally own and possess a firearm, and 21 to purchase a handgun.

Since the federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004, several legislators have unsuccessfully attempted to reinstate it.

Texas has no law on purchasing assault weapons. However, buyers must comply with federal law, which requires a criminal background check on firearm transfers. The check confirms whether a potential buyer is eligible to purchase a weapon.

Pruitt said he is most concerned with Internet and gun show sales, which make purchasing a firearm "too easy."

Pruitt, who grew up shooting and hunting, said he still believes a shotgun is the best weapon for home protection.

However, he said the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to own firearms, has "a limit."

In his interpretation, the original amendment was to protect citizens from a government they were not yet sure would work.

"We as citizens can't have enough fire power to protect ourselves under the idea of the original constitutional amendment to bear arms - to protect yourself from a government that was unstable," Pruitt said.

Our founders did not know what future weaponry would be like, Pruitt said.

"We have to train our efforts to make sure that we have a safe government instead of arming the citizens," Pruitt said. "Arming the citizens is not going to get it."

He said he is calling for "sensible gun regulations."

He worries about street conditions for law enforcement officers now that assault rifles are sold anonymously.

"This creates a real hazard for our law enforcement," he said. "Any traffic stop might be their last with this kind of weaponry that's available to the public."

Emil Chiaberi, director of the documentary "Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postal," said while he supports stricter gun regulations, there are other enabling factors that need to be addressed to prevent mass shootings.

Through his research, Chiaberi has become an expert on mass shootings, pinpointing characteristics of a potential shooter and the reasoning behind such an act.

Trends in mass shootings typically show a spike in violent acts after one has occurred, he said.

"It doesn't mean people want to mimic it," Chiaberi said. "If you're in the same mental state as that person, you may be inspired" to commit an act of violence.

Although a recent Pew Research Center study showed two-thirds of its survey group saw mass shootings, like at the Colorado theater, as isolated acts by troubled people, Chiaberi said they are a "warning sign, a symptom of much deeper societal problems."

"Gun control aside, the solution is not in legislation, it's on a personal level," Chiaberi said.

The country needs to improve its access to social safety nets and access to mental health, he said.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31,347 people died in 2009 from firearm injuries in the U.S., which accounted for almost 18 percent of all injury deaths that year. That year saw 554 killed by accidental discharge, 18,735 by suicide, 11,493 by assault or homicide, and 232 killed by undetermined intent by a firearm.

Firearm-related death ranked second to drug-induced death in 2009, of which 39,147 people died.

In 1991, the CDC presented its recommendations for two technological modifications to prevent deaths by firearms: a child-proof safety device and a device that indicates whether a gun is loaded.

Pruitt said the trigger lock prevented many accidental shootings, but wants to see more done.

The decision comes down to common sense, he said.

Gun lobbyists "will fight any restriction to the detriment of common sense," Pruitt said.

"We don't want to eliminate weapons," he said. "If anybody thinks their AK-47 can handle an Apache helicopter, have at it."



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