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Lucas: Our current gun control approach is not working

Kelly Lucas
February 12, 2014
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EidtPerspLucas-sigA couple of weeks ago, I found myself sitting in my office texting my son, who was locked in a classroom at Purdue University amid reports of a shooting on campus. Texts between students close to the situation indicated that at least one student had been seriously injured, and we soon learned the heartbreaking news that a young man was dead.

I began texting my son as soon as news of the shooter on campus surfaced. I was grateful to receive a quick response from him telling me that he was safe, but my thoughts quickly went to a mother out there who was trying to reach her son and was not getting a response – who would never again get a response – from her child. I later read an account describing how Mary Boldt tried to phone her son that afternoon and, when she could get no answer, finally called Purdue. That is when she received the worst news a parent can hear.

In this particular situation, I don’t know where the killer obtained his gun or if he possessed it legally. As is the case with so many of these horrendous shootings, questions remain that we would all like answered. But the Purdue shooting; along with the almost weekly shootings happening in schools, malls, movie theaters, and grocery stores; not to mention our city streets, once again brings to the forefront the need to do something – anything – to control gun violence in our society.

For the record, let me say that I am not trying to incite those who advocate and defend their Second Amendment right to gun ownership. I’ve often heard it said that the good guys have to own guns because the bad guys will find a way to get them, legally or otherwise, and I don’t argue with this.

But when we hear reports of shootings at schools or malls or other public places, the picture painted of the shooter is typically not one of a thug or criminal – it is often an unstable individual who, quite obviously, had access to firearms.

So, while I am not arguing against a person’s right to own guns or protect himself from threat, here is the question I can not shake: When does one person’s right to own a gun trump another person’s right to return home alive? In fiercely protecting one, we are clearly not doing enough to ensure the other.

I read last week in the ABA Journal that a federal judge in Connecticut had upheld that state’s gun control law which was enacted in the wake of the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The law bans a broad range of assault weapons and prohibits the sale of high-capacity magazines, and its constitutionality was challenged by several groups including the Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League and the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.

In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello wrote, “While the act burdens the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, it is substantially related to the important government interest of public safety and crime control.” The judge acknowledged that the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision protects ownership of handguns that are “in common use,” but he added that gun owners’ Second Amendment rights are protected by the large number of alternative weapons available for hunting, protection and sporting events.

In their response to the decision, lawyers representing those challenging the law told the Hartford Courant that they would do everything they can to get this decision overturned because “There are findings that we can work with.”

My question: Would any of those “findings” lead to meaningful changes that will reduce the number of innocent people who are being shot on a weekly basis in schools and public places in this country? With rights come responsibility, and will the “findings we can work with” support public policy that will help to keep guns out of the hands of those not equipped to use them responsibly. This is not a rhetorical question; I really want to know. Our current approach isn’t working.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that it is an uncomfortable feeling to be texting with your child while he is locked in a classroom because a shooter is on the loose at his school. I am hopeful that our growing discomfort with the status quo will motivate our society to do something about it.•

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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