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Letter | Is now the time for stricter gun laws?
A Long-Term Commitment to Effective Gun Control Laws
I have always been passionate about gun control, but have not shared my views outside of my tight circle. Like many of us, I reserve discussion of strong opinions regarding divisive issues to conversations with like-minded friends and family. No more; I’ve had enough and I hope many of you feel the same way.
By now the subject of gun control has been thoroughly hashed and rehashed by all concerned on both sides of the issue. In a recent New York Times op-ed Bill Keller suggested that “Research estimates that the mean elapsed time from a high-body-count firearm event to baseline apathy is nine days”. This is disturbing but likely accurate. While the pain and memories have lingered longer this time, the changes that are coming to our gun control laws will likely be disappointingly incremental and largely ineffective in the long-run. This is certainly the hope of the NRA, which is basing its current strategy on the likelihood that the issue will fade as time passes.
Now is the time for those concerned about our nation’s gun control laws – arguably the weakest among developed countries – to commit to a long-term effort for significant and meaningful changes. I believe we can make dramatic improvements, but it will take a great deal of time and effort. There is absolutely no doubt that the NRA is in for the long-haul.
I have a reasonable understanding of the rational side of the arguments of gun enthusiasts. I grew up in Othello, Washington in a family of bird hunters. My father has owned more shotguns over the years than I can count. He does not view stronger gun control laws as a threat to his enjoyment of bird hunting and trap shooting. I firmly believe our country can continue to recognize the rights of hunters, recreational target shooters, biathletes and other reasonable firearm enthusiasts, while at the same time having the most effective gun control laws among developed countries.
There will be those who say that stronger gun control laws will not prevent the senseless acts of violence we’ve recently witnessed. Nevertheless, we can greatly reduce the possibility for that person – at that critical, violent moment – to get his hands on assault weapons with multi-round firing capability. I have yet to hear a rational argument for civilian ownership of assault rifles and multi-round ammunition clips.
It will take many of us to make a meaningful difference in our gun control laws. Take a risk and let others know how you feel. And then do it again. We will ask our elected officials to have the courage to take a meaningful stance and do something. We must do the same as private citizens.