In the wake of the Newton, Conn., massacre, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) Dec. 18 reintroduced a bill aimed at establishing a nationwide system for prohibiting unlicensed gun-ownership.

H.R. 6680, the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2012, would implement a system similar to that used to license drivers and register cars.

The Illinois Democrat first introduced this legislation in 2007 and subsequently re-introduced it in 2009 after Blair Holt, a Chicago Julian High School honor student, was shot to death while riding home from school on a crowded public transit bus. The assailant, a teen gang member seeking a rival, boarded the bus and opened fire with a .40-caliber handgun. He missed his intended target, striking Blair and two female classmates instead.

The veteran lawmaker said the shooting of 20 first-graders and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14 is part of a lamentable pattern of gun violence in the U.S. The Newtown massacre should serve as another “wake up call” to the nation to address the issue of gun violence, the longtime lawmaker said in a statement.

“It is becoming far too common in America to hear news reports of children being gunned down,” said Rush, who lost his son Huey to gun violence in 1999. “Whether on the South Side of Chicago, Sandy Hook Elementary School, or anywhere else in the United States, children in particular and all of our citizens should be free to live in a safe and nurturing environment.”

According to the FBI, there are more than 200 million civilian-owned firearms in the U.S., a ratio of 90 guns for every 100 persons. Also according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2011, firearms were responsible for 8,583 out of 12,664 homicides last year.

If passed, the Blair Holt Act would: block the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth; ensure that owners of qualifying firearms are knowledgeable in the safe use, handling, and storage of those firearms; restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youth, and other persons prohibited by federal law from receiving firearms; and facilitate the tracing of qualifying firearms used in crime by federal and state law enforcement agencies.

The legislation would be enforced by the Justice Department.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO