I welcomed a gift this season from a gun owner with a concealed carry permit from Washington who recommended reasonable proposals for gun control.
The gun owner recommended training and safe storage for owners of weapons. I considered it a gift because I’ve read too much vehement opposition from gun owners such as the following quote.
“Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands,” said Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America in a message posted on the ThinkProgress website. “Federal and state laws combined to ensure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones.”
The gun owner supports gun ownership.
“Guns in and of themselves do not kill people. People kill people,” he emailed.
He opposes banning firearms and cites New Zealand’s experience. According to Wikipedia, New Zealand registered weapons after WWI, but by 1983 it was useless. Parliament replaced it with a registry of owners who demonstrate verified secure weapons storage. New Zealand does not register weapons or the number owned .
The emailer suggests a similar system.
“What I would like to see is a law requiring gun owners to meet a minimum security requirement for their weapons, ammunition, and all reloading supplies,” he said. “The required gun safes are available now. Many use microprocessor based finger print identification technology to provide one or more persons immediate access to the stored weapon.”
Would a gun safe have thwarted the Newtown youth during his rage for violence and saved his mother and others?
The emailer adds another suggestion.
“[Washington] already [has] gun safety schooling requirements for youth hunters [under 18] before they can get a hunting license,” he said. “I would like to see the same done for all new concealed [weapon] permit applicants, and a sign-off relating to their means of storing their weapons for both new applicants and renewals.”
It seems to me training protects the gun owner. I’ve fired automatic weapons under the supervision of county sheriff’s officers who talked about the constant training they desire.
If my inability to control tennis balls from my racket two-three times per week is any indication, I’d need continuous practice before I could defend anyone with gunfire exploding around me. And my state would make me liable for damage caused by every bullet fired. No thanks.
As a former school administrator on a sprawling community college campus with hundreds of unlocked doors, I can’t imagine trusting anyone to carry sufficient weapons to protect my students and staff against a gunman in a bullet-proof vest.
Another gift our community received was $10,000 to sponsor a suicide-prevention program called Connect. Youth in the Wenatchee High School Rotary Interact Club.raised the money to support training in the nationally recognized program. We’ve endured 27 suicides this year and I hope we’re done counting.
“We’re trying to stop the trend of escalating suicides,” said Jesus Guillen, a sophomore at WHS and an organizer of the fundraiser, in an interview with Wenatchee World publisher, Rufus Woods.
The tragedy of Newtown cannot be seen as merely a gun control and defense issue. We must build better responses to minister to the mentally disturbed in our local community. And significantly, the National Institute of Mental Health reports 56 percent of suicides involve firearms.
In this Christmas season, I’m thankful we can share two gifts communities could use to protect gun owners and troubled potential gun users.