Gun Control For A Border Wall

If politicians do not reach an agreement regarding security along the US-Mexican border, another government shutdown could be on the horizon. 

I am neither a Republican nor a Trump supporter but the idea that physical barriers would reduce the trafficking of drugs, guns and prostitutes and that immigration should be orchestrated through legal frameworks only, seems obvious to me. If Washington Democrats disagree, perhaps there is something that a good Republican negotiator with a strong enough desire for a deal would be willing to offer as a trade-off. 

Since so much of Trump’s assertions regarding the border have focused on crime and gang violence, it should not be too hard to recognize that America has a violent crime epidemic. 

I am not a Democrat. I do not believe that guns are necessarily the underlying problem behind violent crime and I do not write-off the idea that more guns might help. The shooter in Thousand Oaks, California in November was an ex-Marine believed to have had PTSD. Addressing guns but not PTSD; depression; underfunded schools; socioeconomic gaps; and an infinite number of other domestic matters, would be a partial measure that would not end gun violence. 

Regardless, though no single measure will alone be enough to cure all of America’s problems, that does not negate the fact that gun regulations are one among the many matters that need to be addressed in America, or that a deal trading gun regulations for the construction of barriers along the border would be a worthwhile step for the time being.

The Pittsburgh shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle and three Glock .357 handguns inside the Tree Of Life Synagogue. Additionally, police found three rifles and three handguns in his house and car but he had 21 guns registered to his name.

For gun possession to require a background check (which is not always the case); periodic mental health evaluations; gun inspections; and tests of a person’s shooting, gun handling and knowledge of gun maintenance, is as obvious as border security. Gun owners who have no criminal history, are mentally stable and physically fit to carry should have no problem with these requirements. While there are many hunters supporting gun access, handguns and assault rifles are usually not used for hunting and an individual does not need a collection of similar weapons. When a person purchases a large number of guns it should raise additional flags and there should be a limit to the number an individual can buy.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of tightening gun access is that it would feed the black market, which makes border security a necessary component of effective gun regulation and a natural companion to gun legislation.

Combining border security with gun control might still seem like an odd juxtaposition but Washington has proven incapable of making a deal based on border security alone. Even attempts to exchanging a border wall for a path to citizenship for “dreamers,” illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have failed. If a deal is going to happen both sides are going to have to offer carrots that have not previously been on the table. Democrats might have to front more money but pairing it with gun restrictions would be worth it.

Illegalizing assault rifles; limiting the number of guns an individual can buy; and mandating background checks and mental health evaluations as part of gun licensing requirements, would be less than the blanket ban some anti-gun extremists advocate and these steps will not end gun debates in America. So too, the construction of barriers will not remove illegal migrants already in the country or end debates about what should happen to them.

Effective political advocacy in a bipartisan environment is never about satisfying every extremist demand. America has elected a divided government which will remain in place until at least the beginning of 2021 and possibly even longer. Democrats and Republicans are going to have to learn to work together to find ways to move forward on a consensus basis. So far they are off to a bad start but trading gun regulations for a border wall would give each side something they desperately want in exchange for moderate common sense  concessions and would be a good way to start afresh and move forward.  

About the Author
Baruch Stein holds a BA in Political Science from Penn State University, with minors in Middle Eastern Studies and Jewish Studies. He has experience volunteering for political campaigns, and political advocacy organizations in both Israel and the United States. Born and raised in Pennsylvania he has now been living in Jerusalem for more than eleven years.
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