Monday, March 27, 2023

Letter to the Editor: Federal Gun Laws Must Change


By Kenney Elkomous/concerned Albuquerque citizen and gun violence victim

On January 18th, 2023, I spoke up during the general public comment section at the Albuquerque City Council, with my remarks inspired by countless victims of gun violence, including me and my family, whose NE Heights home in District 8 was shot up 26 times on November 23rd, 2022, the family in SW Albuquerque whose home was shot up 56 times on December 4th, 2022, and families like that of 13 year-old Karon Blake in Washington, DC, who was murdered by a so called “good guy with a gun.”

On this topic of gun violence, my overarching demand is that Albuquerque City Council members adopt the position that the United States should have federal gun laws at least as strict as what they have in the United Kingdom, and that they lobby New Mexico’s 3 US Representatives and 2 US Senators on this proposal. For a succinct overview of UK gun laws, and how they compare to America and other countries, I highly recommend the March 14, 2018 Vox article How gun control works in America, compared with 4 other rich countries.

As for municipal and state action on guns, any such proposals ought to be informed by the aforementioned belief, a sincere belief that Americans ought to enjoy the same – or better – protections from gun violence as they do in the UK. Otherwise, we’re just going to be chasing our tails on this issue, and innocent civilians and law enforcement personnel will continue to be harmed or killed due to needless rates of legal gun ownership. 

Rep. Pamelya Herndon’s House Bill 9, Mayor Tim Keller’s proposal to create a new fourth degree felony offense for randomly shooting a firearm in a populated area, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposal for an assault weapons ban are just more of the same types of woefully inadequate, “common sense” gun reforms that continue to leave unconscionable numbers of families burying their loved ones. We have to aim for something a lot higher than just “common sense.”

I am aware that the majority of American elected officials at any level of government, of any party, do not support gun laws in the realm of what the UK  has. I am not naive. Fifteen years ago, at the age of 23, I was a newly minted federal infrastructure lobbyist in DC, sitting across the table from Members of Congress and cabinet secretaries, and working on national polls with the top Republican and Democratic polling firms. Suffice it to say that I know how politics and public opinion work. I also know how cause and effect work, and the primary cause of senseless gun violence is indisputably the overwhelming rate and ease of gun ownership in this country, to devastating effect.

In closing, as an example of what we are up against, forget NRA-sponsored Republicans:  look no further than Democratic US Senator Martin Heinrich. On a May 24, 2022 Facebook post lamenting the horrific loss of life in Uvalde, TX, Senator Heinrich had the absolute gall to also mention that he himself was a gun owner. I’m tired of self-proclaimed “responsible gun owners” trying to sell us on the idea that there’s this happy, pro-Second Amendment middle ground in between losing children’s lives and the free-for-all that is current US gun policy. I’m reminded of the old adage, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” Our current system is one in which the status quo prevails due to elected Democrats and Republicans trying to out-common sense one another, leaving the goal of keeping children alive to die in the same manner actual children continue to die in this country, pulverized and (with time) forgotten.

We must do better than “common sense.” We must utilize wisdom and compassion, and UK-style gun laws are the wise and compassionate thing to do. Anything less is just politics as usual.


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