While the number of assault weapons owned by private individuals has risen since the sunset of the original 1994 ban, the nation's murder rate is at historic lows. Criminals, by their very nature, have no respect for the law. An outright ban would do nothing more than restrict the rights of law-abiding individuals.
Concerning the president's push for universal background checks, we must enter this discussion with caution. In the case of the Sandy Hook shooter, the 14-day background check deterred Adam Lanza from purchasing weapons. Instead, he stole them from his mother who was in legal possession and for the purposes of self-defense. Before changing current background laws, we must first ask how reasonable any new regulation would be in reducing gun violence.
My heart grieves for the birthdays, graduations and anniversaries that have been unjustly stolen in recent months, but we must realize a person — not just a bullet — took these lives. For a safer America, our focus must first be on enforcing current laws, not further restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and ensuring weapons stay out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.