Gun control needed?

Published 8:40 am Thursday, December 20, 2012

The horrific shootings of 20 innocent children and six educators last week has left so many of us with one question: What can we do to prevent this from happening again? Right now, our suggested answers are many: Improve mental healthcare. Increase regulation on guns and ammunition. Ban certain weapons, or at least work harder to keep them out of the wrong hands. Give ourselves greater freedom to carry and conceal weapons.
If we let fear take over, we might abolish guns altogether, or we might arm everyone. The answer, as always, is somewhere in between, but we need to begin to have the conversation — quickly, respectfully — before we can begin to solve the problem.  Not everyone who owns a gun is liable to commit mass murder; not everyone who wants gun control wants to take all of our guns.
With common sense and compromise, we can navigate the politics of gun control and mental health. We need action on both, and we need reasoned voices to rise above the extremists on both sides. The Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms, but we must find common ground on the limits. How about banning assault rifles? Making sure that purchases at gun shows require a background check? Preserving the right of local law enforcement to make reasoned decisions about granting gun permits?
As for mental health, the path is trickier — and expensive. And we certainly cannot stigmatize all those who are coping with problems as violent. But can you stop a madman bent on destruction?  Two anecdotes in recent days paint a different picture of how we could stop such acts.
The same day that the 20 first-graders were murdered in their classrooms in Connecticut, a deranged man in China knifed 22 school children; none of them died because he lacked the firepower of guns which are nearly impossible to obtain in that country. And last week, as a man tried to kill patrons at an Oregon shopping mall, another young man believes that pulling his concealed weapon helped stop the carnage. He didn’t shoot, but he believes the killer saw his gun. Only two people were killed.
All we can do is push forward, creating regulations that protect our rights and protect our safety.  We ask you to consider this: The children who survived the Sandy Hook tragedy, huddled in closets or bathrooms or under desks, their teachers whispering words of courage, were not protected by guns.
They were protected by love.

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