Derek Gentile: Resolving gun dispute requires understanding opposing view

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PITTSFIELD — One of the aftereffects of last week's massacre in Orlando, Fla., is that we have engaged in a dialog about how to curtail these types of events in the future.

I think one of the issues, for me, is that I don't think any progress can be made unless people are on the same page, or at least understand where the other side is positioned on the issue.

That seems very difficult, given that when one reads about any aspect of the killings, online commenters are sharply divided into one group that sees banning guns as the only logical solution and the other group saying that banning guns will do little or nothing to help the situation.

So I talked to friends of mine who own guns. I hold back their names, not because they requested anonymity, but because I'm not sure all their buddies would be happy to know they're friends with a bleeding heart, tree-hugging socialist.

These are a few observations. Before I get all sorts of angry emails, note that these are solutions proffered by people I know, not by me. Ah, forget it. I'll get 'em anyway.

First, gun owners are wary of solutions that call for banning any sort of gun. This is at least in part, because guns are kind of like Transformers. That is, many can be modified and more specifically, upgraded fairly easily. So if a governmental body sets out to ban so-called "assault rifles," there is some question as to what exactly they would prohibit. And the gun guys with whom I spoke believe the government would err on the side of banning as many guns as possible.

I confess, I never considered that point, in large part because the toy guns I used to play with weren't too versatile.

Another point they made was that the "gun-ban" option seems to have very little wiggle room. Other solutions are discarded, they believe.

That I wouldn't deny. I don't see too many other options, a point I suggested to them.

One of my pro-gun friends suggested more domestic oversight of potential terrorists. According to a story in USA Today, the FBI has identified about 1.5 million potential terrorists worldwide.

Of that number, the FBI says that about 25,000 U.S. residents are on the Terrorist Watch List, a prodigious number.

One of my guys suggested that these "people of interest" be tracked more aggressively. That would certainly require a larger budget. But, as one of my pro-gun friends pointed out, we spend literally billions of dollars on a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier when we are already, by far, the No. 1 naval power on the planet. Perhaps a reallocation of funds would be effective, they believe.

These guys realize, by the way, that a ban on Muslim immigrants wouldn't work. The bad guys of the Islamic State have been recruiting native-born Americans for a couple of years now. I've read they are trying to recruit more white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed members, as well as Asians and Hispanics. The Islamic State is way ahead of the curve here.

I came away with a great deal of respect for these guys. Not that I didn't respect them already. They're good guys. Our bond isn't guns, but a great affinity for the New England Patriots.

They're not idiots; they just have ideas different from mine. But that doesn't make them bad. I think you have to understand before you can condemn. That is just my opinion.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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