Articles and Essays

Moscow Pullman Daily News–Town Crier: Gun Regulations and Immigration Reform

Gun regulations and immigration reforms are seemingly unrelated, yet connected issues. According to a Justice Department report, foreign gangs buy illegal armaments. It benefits gun manufacturers and retailers, not average Americans. On the other hand, undocumented workers are employed in agricultural and construction sectors. It helps those businesses and their consumers. Although discussions about firearms and immigration are polarizing, perhaps both sides can try to understand each other’s concerns and find a midpoint.

Gun owners are concerned any regulation will encroach on their right to bear arms. Others are worried easy access to guns results in suicides, homicides, accidental deaths and injuries (as we have experienced in Idaho, Washington and elsewhere). From what commanding officer Jeff Williams said at a public meeting of the Palouse Militia, and reported in the March 30 Daily News, it appears even the militia realizes the importance of regulations and background checks. He said they “act as an adjunct to law enforcement while supporting the rule of law .” He also pointed out their members “must have clean criminal records, be legally allowed to use a firearm .”
The Second Amendment saw the need of a well-regulated militia for citizens to bear arms. Responsible gun owners shouldn’t tarnish their reputation by supporting sales of guns to anyone, including mentally unbalanced, angry or impulsive reactionaries.

Opponents of immigration reform are concerned undocumented workers take away their jobs and are a drain on resources. Proponents want to help immigrants who are contributing to society and are learning English in order to follow instructions, road signs and the law of the land. However, advocating amnesty for everyone including gang members and drug dealers will raise concern among many and is not in the interest of the community.

Opponents of weapon reforms need to be assured requiring background checks and banning military style weapons are not synonymous with confiscation. Law-abiding civilians don’t need those weapons for hunting, target practice or self-protection. Background checks for buying guns is similar to requiring background checks and credentials for jobs, driving, even volunteering. Just as names of suspected terrorists are on a “no-fly list,” a national database or “no-buy list” could prevent a future Lee, Lanza, Holmes, Stawicki, Loughner, Cho and others from acquiring destructive weapons.

Based on the demand in their businesses, the engineering, health services and financial sectors sponsor their employees for immigration. Employers in agriculture and construction could do the same. When the Obama administration proposed e-verification for workers, many farmers objected. And yet, they urged the government to provide farm labor for them. Instead of depending on the government, perhaps employers can help obtain work documents for those employees whose back-breaking labor has saved the agricultural industry from being outsourced.

As an American citizen who legally emigrated from India, I realize immigration reforms will not take away the rights of those who waited their turn and paid their dues to become citizens of this nation. Similarly, regulations to prevent gun sales to criminals or the mentally unstable shouldn’t worry law-abiding gun owners who have gone through training and licensing.

Although freedom to bear arms for gun owners and the pursuit of happiness for citizens and immigrants are constitutionally given rights, they come with responsibilities. It is the responsibility of gun owners, manufacturers and sellers to see their just guns don’t fall into unjust hands, especially gangs and terrorists – foreign or domestic. And it is the responsibility of those who come here and those who hire them to make sure hard-working people obtain legal documents.

Hemlata Vasavada emigrated from India in 1968 and considers herself a Washingtonian. She and her husband moved to Pullman to enjoy their daughter and her family.