Avoid extreme stances on gun issue

Monday December 24, 2012

In the aftermath of the terrible and unnerving Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting, it’s only natural the issue of gun control is once again at the forefront. On the extremes we see two radically different viewpoints: a total ban on guns vs. the right to possess your weapon(s) of choice as a basic constitutional right. Neither viewpoint contributes to effectively dealing with the cause or prevention of the violent criminal acts we’ve witnessed too many times.

An outright ban does not prevent violent crime. The weapon is only the vehicle used by the criminal. Prohibition does not work, and a ban on guns won’t either. Fully automatic assault type weapons are already illegal and you won’t find them in the racks of your local gun shop, but for those who want them they are and always will be available for a price. The law-abiding citizen gun owner is not your enemy but rather a friend who lives his/her life as responsibly as you. The criminal mind is your enemy.

At the other end of the spectrum, it’s irresponsible to feel an inherent right to virtually any weapon of choice, with little or no control exercised over that right. As recently as 2008, the Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment "protects the individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense within the home..." That’s a powerful but broad statement, and in no way implies there is never a valid reason to restrict the right of ownership or possession in any way. I am a gun owner who not only respects the laws but is also grateful for them. I think the overwhelming majority of owners feel the same way.

So where is a resolution to be found? It lies somewhere between the extreme viewpoints at it always does, and that’s where it should be found. But just as Congress is once again facing the fiscal cliff, the real obstacle facing any issue is the stalemate resulting from a lack of moderate, intelligent and meaningful discussion. As a country we appear to have become increasingly polarized, partisan, selfish and paranoid, and we need to get beyond that to ever see any resolution. Nothing of value comes without a price, and this case is no exception.




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