By Robert Thomas
KENNESAW, Ga. – A local expert in political science stated Friday that the issue of gun violence in America is “bordering on crisis” and that Georgia has the potential to follow in the foot steps of Massachusetts in banning bump stocks.
While Dr. Kerwin Swint, chair of the department of Political Science and International Affairs at Kennesaw State University, acknowledges that Georgia historically has among the weakest gun laws in the nation, he believes there is potential to pass legislation banning bump stocks in the state of Georgia on a non-election year. Although, Swint maintains that Georgia is still very far away from properly addressing the issue of gun control, and laments that lately the legislature has actually been going the opposite way. However, Georgia is not alone in the push toward looser gun laws, with Republicans lining up a vote in the U.S. House next week on making it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. Gun sales also continue to rise, with Black Friday gun shoppers recently setting a single-day record on gun purchase-related background checks.
Swint asserts that the issue of gun violence is objectively getting worse and with 18 of the 30 deadliest shootings in the US, dating back to 1949, having occurred in the last 10 years, he is seemingly well supported by the numbers. Swint largely attributes the high rates of gun violence in the U.S. to the unique gun culture of the United States, and is strongly echoed in this sentiment by his colleague Dr. David Shock, who is also a professor of Political Science as KSU. However, while Shock believes that education and mental health are the larger contributing factors to the problem of mass shootings, Swint contends that the lack of gun restrictions is the main factor. “The time has come to take action that may be politically painful, but is going to create a safer society,” said Swint.
Local KSU student and former U.S. Marine Brandon Lee is skeptical of any gun control measures enacted in Georgia however, and believes that registration of weapons will lead to confiscations. Although, surprisingly in opposition to the Republican Party, Lee agrees with specific measures of regulation, such as required training and expanding the background check to private sales. Lee also stated he would not be opposed to legislation in Georgia banning bump stocks, a gun accessory the Las Vegas shooter used to increase his rate of fire.
Despite the popular support of such gun control policies by the majority of both parties, Shock and Swint both emphasized that the mostly likely contributing factor for the lack of movement on this issue is the might of the lobbying force of the National Rifle Association, or the NRA. “The NRA is probably the most successful single issue lobbying group in the history of this country,” said Swint. Shock believes that the Supreme Court’s current interpretation of the second amendment is also a strongly limiting factor on enacting gun control legislation at the state level and believes the issue would be better addressed at the national level.