“There’s no such thing as a law abiding gun owner,” Elliot Fineman told a class at the University of Illinois of Chicago on February 19. “They’re legal, but not law abiding.”
Fineman was referring to what he sees as a myth that is prevalent among political leaders and throughout America, that law abiding gun owners have a right to defend themselves. But, Fineman said gun owners typically do not get the chance to use their guns for self-protection, and guns do more harm than good.
Fineman’s son was shot on Dec. 30, 2o06 by a schizophrenic in a restaurant in San Diego.
Fineman experienced his own tragedy on December 31, 2006. He was informed by authorities that his son was shot by a schizophrenic in a restaurant in San Diego the previous day. After his son’s death, Fineman dropped his occupation as a strategic marketing advisor and decided to put his skills in a new area of focus: gun control.
Now serving as the president and CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council, Fineman works to spread awareness of firearm violence across the nation and to promote the cause of his council. He and the National Gun Victims strive to tell and compel audiences the stories of gun sufferers and hope for the day when sanity overrules the laws centered on weapons.
Fineman compared a gun owner to a driver – one who usually follows the rules of the road but occasionally runs a red light or doesn’t fully halt at a stop sign.
Fineman also stressed that while there are restrictions on purchasing guns most of the laws in place can be easily bypassed by purchasing guns legally online or at a gun show where background checks are not required. According to Fineman, two of every five guns bought in the United States are sold without a background check.
He also warned of how prevalent guns can be where it is legal to carry a concealed weapon. Every state but Illinois has a so-called concealed carry law, and Illinois is currently crafting its own after a recent court decision. Forty three states allow open carry of firearms, meaning a gun does not have to be concealed to be carried in public.
“Does anyone go to Starbucks?” asked Fineman of the class. “There they allow open carry guns in the states that allow open carry.”
There is an increasing amount of promotion for the act of open carry, much of it organized by the National Rifle Association. The NRA, known to be America’s guard of Second Amendment rights, promotes gun ownership for a citizen’s right to self-defense or to protect a government from tyranny.
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December, in which 20 children and six adults were shot to death, the debate over the curent gun laws has heated up, and President Barack Obama has called for mandatory background checks and greater restrictions on assault weapons.
“Once people discover how it affects them, then laws change,” Fineman said.