I am not a member of the NRA, nor am I “anti-gun.” I have served in the military and understand and respect weapons. I am for responsible gun ownership and use, and I believe it is time for a serious local and national conversation about gun control.
Historically, the NRA has dominated the conversation and hijacked the 2nd Amendment for its own purposes to support gun manufacturers and anti-government paranoia. The NRA presents a false choice. They say that you either need to be for unrestricted gun ownership or for confiscation of all weapons. Neither of these extremes is desirable; the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
These are some issues I think should be in the gun control discussion: First and foremost, all weapons, equipment and ammunition used for hunting should be legal and available.
Secondly, government should have the authority to restrict gun ownership from certain people such as children, ex-convicts and the mentally ill.
In order to enforce this there needs to be some form of background check done prior to procurement of a weapon.
Licensing of weapons and gun safety classes should be considered requirements of gun ownership much in the same way we control the use and licensing of motor vehicles.
Gun safety should require that all weapons not in the direct control of a licensed owner should be locked in a safe, and/or secured with a trigger lock. Ammunition should be secured in a separate locked area.
There is also a legitimate limit to the type of weapons, equipment and ammunition that should be legal. In my opinion, there is no legitimate reason for civilians to own automatic weapons or other weapons of war. Large capacity clips should be illegal.
Their only purpose is to provide the capacity to kill more, faster. Likewise, armor piercing ammunition or other exotic ammo that exists solely for the purpose of doing extreme damage should be illegal.
None of these has anything to do with hunting. Consideration should also be given to limiting the volume of ammunition owned by an individual.
In addition, laws should make penalties for armed offenses much more severe than those where weapons are not used. Gun owners who allow guns to fall into the hands of children or other unauthorized individuals should also suffer severe penalties.
I am completely aware that one or some of these measures will not in and of themselves make us safer. I do not believe, however, that we should do nothing.
There is an even more important, and related, discussion about the state of our mental health system and the social issues that lead to gun violence that needs to take place.
I am certain, however, that limiting the access to certain types of weapons, controlling who can get weapons and establishing standards for responsible gun ownership with penalties for failures to comply would be great progress toward making our communities a safer place for our children to live.