Gun control, or not?

Gun control image of cemeteryI have been sitting back watching the debate about tightening the gun control laws following the shootings in Newtown and wondering where people’s heads are.

Let me preface this blog by saying I have never liked guns. When my children were young, the only guns I would allow them to play with squirted water. They were told not to use their hands as pretend guns, and that guns were never to be pointed at people.

Then we moved out to rural Minnesota and there were guns in every household. Nearly everyone hunted, so rifles were the most common. I understand using guns to bring home food, and told my childre that when they were old enough, if they were interested in guns, I would send them to gun safety classes so they would at least gain some respect for the tool. I felt they would be safer knowing how to use them rather then stumbling upon guns and someone getting hurt.

Fast forward to today and my attitude has changed a little. I don’t know if I have been “desensitized” or what, but there are times when I would like to be trained to use a gun. I believe I have that right and I don’t want to see it taken away.

Has gun control ever stopped criminals from getting guns? I know the city of Minneapolis recently received accolades from President Barak Obama for its efforts with the Blueprint for Action program and the statistical changes in youth gunplay, which is wonderful! It’s GREAT fewer youth are using guns and fewer children are dying. That program, which pairs youth with mentors, works to intervene and help them unlearn the culture of violence. To me, that is attacking the problem in the right area.

But taking guns out of the public hands is only going to take them out of the hands of law abiding people. It isn’t the “guns” that are killing people, it’s the people holding the guns. It’s like saying we need to get rid of airplanes because they can be used as a weapon to kill people, like 9-11. Or should we outlaw cars? How many people die each day in car accidents? Cars kill people. Let’s get rid of them.

How about alcohol? How many people have died because of how alcohol affects the brain and the changes in thought processes? How often has it contributed to vehicle accidents where someone dies, or domestic violence murders? It should be outlawed, too.

Or cigarettes. How many people die each year from cigarettes? And it’s all the cigarette’s fault, or the manufacturer’s fault! Let’s outlaw cigarettes.

But that would take away the rights of others! BINGO! It’s easy to point the finger and blame others, but the only one to blame is the one who pulls the trigger, or smokes the cigarette, or has those drinks before getting behind the wheel, or stabs a partner in the heat of anger. What needs to be addressed is personal responsibility and changing the culture of violent thought and action, not restricting.

I applaud the idea of more thorough background checks, and having checks and balances for those with mental illness before gun permits are issued. Those measures make sense. But the particular guns on the banning list were not the ones used in Newtown or the majority of similar shootings. I think the ban on military-style assault weaponry is more to protect the government than civilians. Using a tragedy like Newtown to champion that type of agenda seems inappropriate to me. It doesn’t seem like that type of ban will make it any safer for you or me.

Giving peace officers the ability to carry guns or have access to them on school grounds may help. I know there is always the chance that the officer may be overcome and the gun turned against him or others. But in situations like Newtown, more children may be saved. It may not stop incidents from occurring, but those incidents may cut fewer lives short.

Guns and rifles are a part of daily life for many people: Those who hunt for food, those who live in rural areas and need to protect their livestock from wild animals, and those who spend their lives trying to protect civilization from anarchy and self destruction. You can’t get rid of them completely, and criminals will always be able to get their hands on them. If the right to bear arms is taken away from the general population, which is unconstitutional, how can we protect ourselves?


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