The recent senseless killing of adults and so many innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School has once again opened the dialog about gun control. I don’t know why it takes such a heinous act to restart this conversation. But once again, gun control is front and center in our national conscience.
Since I was a teenager I have been a hunter and a gun owner. My father, a police officer and hunter, taught me to respect and shoot guns at an early age. I bought my first shotgun at 16 and my first rifle a year later.
But I am for gun control. Gun control won’t stop violence. But if it saves one or two lives (and I believe it can do much more than that) then I am all for it.
Registration and background checks do not impinge on my rights. My truck is registered. I had to register to get married. Where I grew up I had to register my bicycle. I have no problem registering my guns. I would be more than happy to do so if it saves even one life.
I own firearms that I use for hunting, for target practice and — a handgun — for home protection. I have no need for assault rifles. I do not need, nor do I believe there is any legitimate civilian use for, 100-round magazines.
I think background checks help keep me and my family safer. Keeping guns away from those who will not use them responsibly is a very good and very important thing.
Gun control will not solve all of our gun violence problems. We live in a culture of violence and we need to attack the problem from every possible angle. Parents have a huge role. So does the community and church. And so does government.
Gun control does not impinge on our constitutional rights. That is a false argument. We have had some form of gun control for decades. It is illegal to own machine guns, bazookas and rocket launchers. The courts have repeatedly upheld these bans as constitutional. We need to add assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips to that list of banned firearms and accessories.
Nobody is threatening to restrict my ability to go hunting or my ability to own firearms. If I have to fill out some additional paperwork to register my firearms, or if I have to pay a little higher tax on my ammunition to pay for these efforts, I will do so gladly.
I will do these things gladly because I will do it with the knowledge that these little inconveniences just might help save lives. Some of those lives will be the lives of young children. Knowing that makes it hard for me to understand any reasonable argument against gun control.
I don’t know whether or not to be optimistic that sane gun control can be instituted. Public sentiment seems to favor gun control. But we have a Congress that can’t tie its own shoes without going through prolonged gridlock. And many in Congress still lack the backbone to stand up to the National Rifle Association.
I used to belong to the NRA. The NRA does many good things to promote responsible gun ownership and use. But I left the organization many years ago because in my view their stance on gun control was short-sighted and unnecessarily extreme. I did not want my dues being used to support their extreme political agenda.
I think it is time we push back on the NRA and urge our legislators to do the responsible thing.
This is about saving the lives — especially the lives of young children.
I am a hunter and gun owner who would love to see sane gun control.