Tuesday, May 14

The point of a Gun

We know there is a problem with guns. We know something has to be done to prevent further massacres, accidental deaths of children, suicides and revenge killings.

What's stopping us from solving this problem? Our inability to to face up to responsibility. No one wants to be the adult. Selfishness, politics and ignorance contribute to the inertia.

There is fierce debate from some gun owners who view limiting access to military style assault rifles as a personal attack on their rights. There's a great deal of power jockeying by politicians lining up to use the issue to their political advantage. Then there is a media blitz to stir up public hysteria with the fear of mentally ill people stalking the streets ready to kill.

What's missing is sound education. John Wheeler who whose son was killed at Sandy Hook said, "They say guns don't kill people, people kill people. So let's deal with the people" and he's right. The people in this case is everyone.

Responsible gun owners, and they are the majority, understand the dangers of guns and respect their use. That's why the guns are locked up out of the reach of children or thieves. They know how to use them safely. Everyone who owns a gun should be required to be so educated. You want to own a gun, you are required to take a NRA approved gun safety course and show certification when purchasing a gun. We don't let untrained people drive heavy cars around the streets for the same reason. The certification can renewed like a driver's license.

We need to know the realities of gun use and violence. No more blocking studies on gun safety where we all pretend that owning a gun is not different than owning a car. Except it is. It's like having a poisonous snake loose in the house and one needs to be aware of the precautions.

Politicians need to learn this isn't a game of collecting votes or courting favor with special interest groups. It requires less finger pointing with the argument that is it someone else's job to deal with it.

We have to recognize and deal with mental illness. Mental illness is not sign of a failed human being to be swept under the rug and ignored.  We don't stigmatize someone who has a physical disability, we don't put people in leper colonies or lock them up in mental institutes anymore for good reason. The mentally disabled need to be treated with the same respect and kindness as those with a physical one.

I believe gun ownership is an important right but it is not an absolute right  that disregards the safety and well being of those who chose not to be armed.  We have the right to be protected from those who are irresponsible, uneducated and lacking in moral judgement from using arms against society. This issue is about saving lives while protecting the people's right to bear arms. Finding that balance is everyones benefit.

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