Letter to the Editor
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Like many of you, I’m wondering how our legislators can debate the gun issue when there appears to be so little dialogue among the spectrum of beliefs and experience with guns. So, it is my purpose today to start that dialogue here locally. I invite your thoughtful responses.
First off, I’ll say I do not own a gun; however, I have benefited from others shooting squirrels, deer, pigs etc. I am a carnivore and, since moving to Scotland County in 1994, I have learned how to butcher and use most parts of the animal. I do see the taking of a life as a deliberate and sacred act.
So, I’m confused about several of the objections to various gun policy changes.
Background Checks: I had to have a background and fingerprint check to work as a sub in the school system. Did I enjoy paying for that service? Not really, but if it helps keep the schools safer, of course I’m in. Privacy comes up a lot these days and honestly, I think private enterprise–financial institutions, social media, shopping sites, gaming sites, etc., can and do collect more information about us than our bureaucratic behemoth ever could! I’m curious which questions in the background check do folks find too obtrusive?
Next, Weapon Power. Again, I don’t know about magazines and bullet sizes, but it seems to me there is a point of compromise in discussing what constitutes preparedness for self-defense. A short range, disabling handgun if you travel in sketchy circles and know how to use it? A shotgun if you live out in the country and must deal with vermin of the 4- and 2-legged kind? Something more powerful if you have bigger assets to protect and expect more than one attacker (I can’t even imagine that lifestyle)?
Of course, I can imagine the thrill of shooting a powerful weapon. I have done my share of adventure sports. But do we have to own these weapons outright? And are they useful when we are caught by surprise as in a mass shooting or dealing with a totally deranged mind? Could we possibly be satisfied with renting high powered guns at a secure shooting range for that thrill?
Now I know folks do say that these high-powered guns are out there anyway but here I would ask folks to look at the data from states that have passed gun control legislation in the past 10 years. The data is solidly convincing that homicides go down! Isn’t that the goal?
There is also a lot of talk of more mental health counseling but where is the data showing effective programs? How long have we had high recidivism in jails, for example? I don’t think we will get reduced homicides with only the mental health solution which, by the way, further stigmatizes many mental health clients who are just trying to deal with the stresses dealt to them whether from family of origin, genetics, poverty or just lack of good role models (of course, I’m simplifying here).
And one last point. I am struck repeatedly with a flaw I see in public “debate” and that is that we so rarely look to other “free” nations to learn what has worked there. Be it gun policy, healthcare, climate change, education etc. there are effective ways to move forward on these issues if we can just get our goals aligned. For me it is about creating sustainable communities and leveling the playing field for all.