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Can We Please Have a Sensible Discussion About Gun Control?

My heart sank this morning when I saw the news about the massacre in Aurora, Colorado.  My deepest sympathy goes out to all the families of the victims.

This litany is a sad one:

University of Texas Massacre ~ 1966
California State University Fullerton Massacre ~ 1976
Attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan ~ 1981
Luby’s Massacre, Kileen, Texas ~ 1991
University of Iowa Killing ~ 1991
Springfield, Oregon School Massacre ~ 1998
Columbine High School Massacre, Littleton, Colorado ~ 1999
Capital Hill Massacre, Seattle, Washington ~ 2006
Amish School Shooting, Nickel Mines, Pa. ~  2006
Virginia Tech Shootings ~ 2007
Northern Illinois Shootings, DeKalb, Illinois ~ 2008
Attempt on the life of Gabrielle Giffords, Tucson, Arizona ~  2011
Chardon High School, Ohio shooting ~ 2012
Theater Massacre, Aurora, Colorado ~ 2012

Tragically, this is only a partial list of the senseless gun violence in the United States since 1966. I agree with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s statement today that “Maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”  The Mayors of the USA know the horrors of street violence because they have to cope with it daily.  “The Mayors Against Illegal Guns”  make it clear:

We support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law. And we know that a policy that is appropriate for a small town in one region of the country is not necessarily appropriate for a big city in another region of the country.

But what binds us together is a determination to fight crime, and a belief that we can do more to stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them. We have seen how the polarizing rhetoric of gun politics on all sides only obscures the tragic reality we see every day on our streets: violent criminals with easy access to illegal guns
(see, http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/home/home.shtml).

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a similar mission:

We believe it is too easy for dangerous people to obtain dangerous weapons. There are only a few gun control laws on the books, and even those have loopholes. This leads to senseless gun violence affecting tens of thousands.

But we CAN do something about it. We should make it harder for convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and others like them to get the guns in the first place.

We can do this by passing effective laws that make sense: requiring Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales; restricting access to military-style assault weapons; and strengthening law enforcement’s efforts to stop the illegal gun market, like limiting the number of guns that can be bought at one time.

Thousands upon thousands of people will continue to die and be injured needlessly each year without stronger, sensible gun laws. The Brady Campaign fights for sensible gun laws to protect you, your family, and your community” (see: http://www.bradycampaign.org/).

As a nation we need to sensibly deal with the horrible realities of gun violence in our country.  That doesn’t mean that we will loose our Second Amendment rights.  That doesn’t mean that hunters will have to stop hunting, or, that trap shooters will have to stop shooting clay targets, or, that gun collectors will have to stop collecting antique guns.  What it means is that we should establish and enforce reasonable gun control regulations to prevent disturbed persons from assembling arsenals of assault weapons to  massacre innocent people.

The gun control dialog has been trivialized by the debilitating extremism in our politics and NRA lobbying.  Conspiracy theories  and cutesy-talking points make a mockery of such an important and serious issue; a matter of life and death, if you will!  Disturbed people like James Holmes make a mockery of the Second Amendment itself.  The best way to protect and preserve our Second Amendment rights is to keep the convicted felons, the convicted domestic abusers, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill people of the world from  abusing them. The right to bear arms is our right but it is a right that calls for responsibility ~ responsible gun ownership.  Unfortunately, politicians at all levels are shying away from a true and substantial debate.

Just think about what happened politically when in 2008 Barack Obama said: “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”  Suddenly, Obama was the evil foreign  guy who was going to take away everybody’s guns. And, just recently, the very strange conspiracy theory that the Obama administration allowed guns to go to Mexico deliberately in order to increase gun crime there, so it could cite that crime as a reason for more gun control in the United States, specifically an assault weapons ban!!!  Can we please drop this kind of nonsense and fear mongering ?

The political dialog is ridiculous.  Either you are an anti-American, anti-freedom, socialist who wants to intrude into everyone’s life by taking away every last gun in the land, or, you are a true patriot who is protecting everyone from a tyranny akin to the Nazis and Muslim terrorist advocates of Sharia Law!  Let us deal with reality please!

Like most things in life, gun control is a complicated issue.  Life itself is not “black and white.” Life is just not that simple.  There is a lot of grey area.  In between the gun debate extremes why don’t we (in the greay area ~ dare I say the area of compromise) build a hedge around the Second Amendment, which will protect  it with reasonable and flexible regulations for reasonable and sane people?

Hopefully the 2012 campaign can offer the arena for a real, informative,  in-depth debate about gun control in this country.

Let us protect the Second Amendment with reasonable Federal and State gun laws.

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