Following last week’s column on gun violence in the Murray Ledger, I received a polite, informative, and thoughtful email from a reader who wrote in his first sentence: “Responsible gun owners are as disgusted by mass shootings as anyone.”
This was a reminder to me that I should have included hunters and sportsmen along with the military on my list of responsible gun owners. My email correspondent also pointed out several facts that are worth sharing. First was that the AR-15 is problematic, not just because it is a military-style weapon but because of its high-capacity magazine that holds up to thirty rounds. His second main point was that most shootings (not mass shootings necessarily) involved handguns.
My email friend was also concerned about any government attempt to take away weapons already purchased, and I assured him in a return email that this was not something I supported. Rather, I wanted it to be made harder for unstable people to purchase such weapons. My reader agreed.
I want to thank this person for engaging in conversation with me on this very difficult subject of gun violence. We both, I trust, learned something from our email exchange.
Finding common agreement with someone whose views might be different but who is willing to engage in rational conversation is a good thing – something that many of our legislators have yet to learn.
On the same day I received my email regarding last week’s column I noticed a story in the Washington Post (1-26-23) by John Cox and Steven Rich entitled “Gun owners favor requiring parents to lock up weapons. It’s lawmakers who don’t.”
The authors point out that over the past two years, “at least 45 acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses would have been prevented, sparing 51 people from being shot and 44,000 children from being exposed to the terror and trauma of those incidents,” had guns been locked up.
Yet some state legislatures, fearful of “a small but fierce core of gun rights devotees key to the Republican base,” refused to pass laws requiring that parents lock up their guns to keep them out of the hands of children.
This reluctance exists despite the fact that “since 2000, more than 11,000 children have ended their own lives by suicide, and thousands more have shot themselves or others by accident. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for young children and teenagers in the United States,” according to Cox and Rich.
One Republican legislator in Virginia, whose campaign received $5000 from the National Rifle Association, told the reporters that laws requiring parents to keep gun out of the hands of their children were “unenforceable, invasive, and run the risk of severe violations of privacy.”
Does anyone think that many parents would obey such a law out of love for their children and others who might die in a school shooting? How invasive, pray tell, is a school shooting or the death of even one child? Laws don’t need to be 100 percent enforceable to have a positive effect.
So, how does the general voting public feel about this?
One poll taken in Michigan last September showed that 82% of those polled favored such a law. Support was clear across the political spectrum, according to Cox and Rich, with 93% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans supporting it. 76% of gun owners favored such a bill, and even about 2/3rds of NRA members were on board with the measure.
What we are talking about here is not the “deep state” sending out agents to seize our guns, but only a law reminding parents to keep children from hurting themselves and others by locking up weapons in our homes. This is a small step toward sanity – and the public seems to agree with that sentiment.
How long will a minority of far-right MAGA Republicans continue to place the rest of us in danger by refusing such common-sense measures as this one?
While it may be true that we will never be able to remove deadly weapons from those who shouldn’t have them, we do not have to continue sacrificing our neighbors — and even our neighbor’s children — to the political whims of people who refuse sensible forms of gun control.