Op Eds

Re: "If mass shooters slaughtered dogs, then maybe Sen. John Kennedy would act," NOLA.com, March 16

Jarvis DeBerry's column criticizes me for filing legislation after the death of a dog in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight. The inference is that my time would be better spent trampling on law-abiding citizens' right to bear arms in a misguided attempt to eradicate evil behavior. I respectfully disagree.

First of all, I was heartbroken by the tragedy that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We all were. Any school shooting takes me back to the breaking news bulletins about Columbine High School. Columbine shattered the idea that our schools are safe havens in which evil cannot trespass. It was a life-changing moment.

Do you know what was in place at the time of that horrible massacre at Columbine High School? The United States had an assault weapons ban. That ban didn't save a single one of the kids killed at Columbine. History tells us that increased gun control doesn't prevent tragedies like school shootings. It just doesn't. All increased gun control does is give people a false sense of security. Criminals and evil people do not care what laws are on the books. 

If you look at the facts, you will see that from 1999 to 2013, the number of privately owned firearms in the United States increased by 56 percent. During those same years, the number of gun-related homicides fell by almost 50 percent. That's telling.

Murder is a crime in this country. In some states, it's punishable by the death penalty. Putting a dog into an overhead bin on an airplane and depriving him of the ability to breathe isn't illegal. It should be.  

More gun control laws aren't the solution to what happened in Florida. No doubt some took offense when I said that we need idiot control instead of more gun control, but I meant it. The Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter obtained a weapon because someone in the Air Force neglected to report that he beat his wife and kid. Federal and local government officials failed to act on more than 40 warnings that Nikolas Cruz was imploding and showing increasingly violent behavior.  

What we need is for people to do their jobs and enforce the laws we have now to stop school violence. What we don't need to do is to overreact and take away guns from law-abiding citizens, who have a constitutional right to own them, just as they have a constitutional right to speak freely and choose their religion without seeking a permission slip from government.

What we certainly don't need is to confuse the issue by bringing inhumane treatment of animals into a discussion about how to stop violence in the United States.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy

Madisonville