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Gun Owners, Don’t Get Mad – It Is Time To Talk

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December 14, 2012 is a date I will likely never forget. The tragedy in Newtown, CT  has been seared into our collective minds. As horrible as any of the recent mass shootings have been, this one is worse for one simple reason — most of the victims were completely helpless children.

In the wake of this tragedy people are having heated, passionate arguments on the Internet about what needs to be done. Most of these debates will be pointless insult contests that won’t advance the conversation. This is why I’m not participating in the comment section of news sites right now. No one thinks objectively in that forum and compassionate logic is completely absent. If someone disagrees with you, you are a “moron.”

I am a gun owner. In fact, I own two of the three firearms used in the Sandy Hook shooting; a Glock pistol and an AR-style rifle. Shooting and hunting are among my favorite hobbies. I am an advocate for the Second Amendment and believe in our right to bear arms. I also believe that something needs to be done. And I hope that gun owners and advocates are sensitive to recent events.

Mass shootings are a complex problem with many layers. No one aspect is wholly at fault for the 16 shooting tragedies that have happened this year. Guns are certainly part of it. They are the tool used to perpetrate these crimes. But they are just that, a tool. School security is something that also needs to be addressed. Gun-free school zones are useless. Maniacs on a mission don’t care about gun-free zones. Do we need armed guard s at our schools? I don’t know, but nothing should be ruled out right now. Mental illness is also part of it but talking about it is so tricky and needs to be treated sensitively. While the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens and are not on the verge of a horrible crime, most people who suffer from mental disorders are also not a threat either. But a fraction of a percent of people in both of these groups are a threat. Identifying them and preventing them from doing something evil is what needs to happen.

I am not a doctor and have no experience with mental illness so I will not speak to that. As a gun owner I will say this to my fellow owners: Don’t get mad, it is time to talk about gun control. We may have to make some concessions. I don’t like that concessions may have to be made, but people are scared, and with good reason. Hell, I am scared too! Whether certain weapons are banned, restrictions are placed on magazine capacity, stricter screening on those who purchase firearms or tighter rules for weapons owned in homes with children are instituted, some combination of these things is likely to happen, and I have to say, I am fine with that.

On the other hand, I do not think a blanket ban of so-called “assault weapons” is the answer either. Parts of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, were somewhat ridiculous to gun owners in the definitions of weapons that were banned and there were ways around it.

Magazine capacity restrictions are the most likely thing to change, in my opinion. It’s also the change I would be the most agreeable to. My AR-15 came with one 30-round magazine and I can’t stand it. It’s big and bulky. It takes a box and a half of ammunition to fill it, and I never do. It gets in the way when I’m trying to shoot from a bench. It is also way more than I would ever need. I bought a 5-round magazine for my rifle so that I could target shoot more easily, and so that I can legally use it for hunting.

National legislation is likely to be introduced in the next year. Passage of any legislation to control gun ownership will be tough to do. I don’t think that everything to come out of Washington will be a bad idea. Some will be bad, some will be good. But to me I think this is something that should be handled at a state level. South Dakota has much less restrictive gun laws than, say, New York. We’re more rural, the capital of pheasant hunting, and sport shooting in general is a way of life to many, myself included. We also don’t have the same problems with gun violence that those in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles do.

I urge everyone who is a gun owner to be compassionate and reasonable in the weeks and months to come. I have friends who will completely disagree with some of the things I have said and that doesn’t bother me. I don’t know what changes should be made, but I can’t come up with a good reason why the status quo is the way to go.

 

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