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What to Do About Guns?

In the aftermath of two mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, Bay Area lawmakers and gun rights activists disagree on how to proceed.

The of six people over the weekend at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin was the second mass-murder committed using firearms in the United States within two weeks. The temple shooting followed in mid-July which killed 12 people.

The two recent attacks have raised the question of how best to prevent future incidents such as these from occurring.

California Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Leland Yee contend that the best way to prevent mass shootings is by creating stricter regulations on the purchase of weapons, particularly assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons which have the potential to exert the greatest damage.

Yee recently introduced , a bill to limit the damage that can be caused by semi-automatic weapons and assault weapons. The intent, Yee says, is to prevent weapons from being easily reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition.

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“While most gun owners are law-abiding, it is a fact that such weapons are more likely to be used to kill an innocent person than used in self-defense," Yee said. "One only needs to look at England, Japan, and other nations with strict gun access to see that these types of gun control laws are effective in preventing gun-related homicides."

His bill has recently gained support from other Democratic politicians including Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Adam Keigwin, Senator Yee’s spokesperson, added that this is only one of many steps needed to reduce gun violence.

Other steps needed, according to Keigwin, include mandatory psychological treatment such as anti-depressant drugs, which would decrease the likelihood of a person in a volatile state from committing a violent crime.

Keigwin stressed that while Democratic lawmakers such as Yee support second-amendment rights including ownership of hunting rifles and other single shot weapons. The type of weapons on the market today are too harmful to be available to anyone," he said.

“Our founding fathers could not have imagined the weapons that exist today,” said Keigwin

Gun rights activists such as Scott Jackson strongly disagree with the regulatory approach being pursued by Democrats.

According to Jackson, the Chief Instructor for the Bay Area Firearms Training Group, blaming guns for mass killings is akin to blaming cars for vehicle accidents.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” said Jackson.

Jackson stressed that psychoactive drugs are the cause of mass murders rather than the solution.

“Every horrific crime is because people are on anti-depressants and psychoactive drugs,” Jackson said, adding that both the shooters in Colorado and Wisconsin were on such drugs during the time of the shooting.

Jackson contends that the reason drugs are framed as the solution rather than the problem is due to the money in the pharmaceutical industry.

“Pharmaceutical companies are liars and corrupt. They buy off senators and congressmen,” said Jackson.

Jackson said the ideal solution to gun violence is two-fold.

First, Jackson claims that allowing concealed weapons will act as a deterrent to potential shooters.

Jackson points out an example of a church shooting, where after the first shot was fired from the shooter, an armed parishioner returned fire, killing the shooter and potentially preventing a massacre.

Second, Jackson says media outlets must refrain from publicizing information about the shooters, as it encourages copy-cat killing.

Jackson discusses the example of Canada, where the media does not publish information about shooters; rather they are discretely tried and sent to prison.

“We have to stop making an idol of these kind of people,” said Jackson.

Both Yee and Jackson point to statistics on how their ideas of increased regulations or decreased regulations respectively can decrease homicide rates substantially.

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