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Kashmeri: Meaningful Gun Regulation

(Host) Commentator Sarwar Kashmeri is a gun owner and national security specialist who believes that if Americans really want to develop meaningful gun regulations, they're going to have to Think long term.

(Kashmeri) The day after the President's speech Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he didn't know if an assault weapons ban could pass the Senate. In Vermont, legislation to ban assault weapons was pulled off the table within a week, before it could even be considered by lawmakers.

So much for expectations of quick action on the President's proposals, drafted after the murders of 20 young students and their teachers last month in Newtown Connecticut.

I think the most we can expect now, maybe, is passage of legislation to ensure that anyone wanting to buy a firearm is checked against a Federal database. With luck we may also get a ban on armor piercing bullets.

Beyond that I expect little.

The biggest reason for my skepticism is the realization that the train has already left the station. America is awash in more than 300 million firearms, including 3 million so called assault weapons. There's little the President or Congress can do to change this situation in the short term. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try. But I believe the real payoff will only come from thinking big ideas, long term.

First, we need to make a serious attempt to get as many firearms as possible out of circulation. A month ago the Los Angeles Police Department recovered more than two thousand guns in one day long buy-back event. Guns recovered during this no questions asked programs are melted down and destroyed. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department will run a similar program to exchange guns for gift cards. Senator Feinstein's new bill wisely attempts to prohibit the sale of new assault weapons without taking them away from current owners.

What if the Federal Government, in partnership with corporations that wish to be seen as civic leaders, were to set up a billion dollar fund to buy back weapons nationally through police departments; I bet we could soak up millions of firearms in a decade.

Then, as radical and challenging as it may sound, I also think we should make an effort to amend the 2nd Amendment.

Urbanization is shifting the balance of political power: 50% of rural counties lost population last year and less than 20 percent of lawmakers now representnon-urban areas of the country. So, within the next 30 years most Americans will live in urban areas. These are places in which firearms cause the most damage. Think Chicago, Philadelpia, Newark, and yes, Newtown, CT. I believe that these rapidly changing demographics will change Americans' views on an unregulated constitutional right to bear arms.

As an owner of firearms and an enthusiastic shooting sportsman I'm glad the President has decided to lead on this issue. And Iwish him luck. But to really make a difference he'll need a dual strategy: proposing measures that stand a chance of passing Congress now, but also preparing the field for his successors to continue the effort into the future.

Sarwar Kashmeri of Reading Vermont is an adjunct professor of political science at Norwich University and author of NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete. He holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and specializes in international business and national security.
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