Letter to the editor: Those on side of sensible gun legislation will prevail

May. 25, 2013 @ 02:16 PM


The effort to reform firearms laws has been met by resistance that defies logic and the recent vote in the U.S. Senate is a reminder of this. “Senators’ say they fear the NRA and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets.”

These are the words in Gabrielle Giffords’ op-ed printed in the New York Times on April 17. Giffords is a former congressperson from Arizona injured in a mass shooting approximately two years ago. She and her husband, a military veteran and astronaut, formed Americans for Responsible Solutions, an anti-gun violence organization. She is both a gun owner and victim of gun violence.

Her words and story are part of one side of this issue. On the other side the paranoia spread by the NRA and some senators has misled those fearing gun confiscations. “They’re coming for your guns” cry has drowned out the real issues.

This side seems to believe that background checks and any more new laws will not stop law breakers from obtaining a gun. Laws and regulations do not prevent bad things from happening, they deter. Crimes are not prevented because of laws, murders still occur and robberies still occur. If there were no laws mandating speed limits and drivers’ license, would more people speed or drive without drivers’ license — of course they would. But more people (good and bad) than don’t comply because there are laws.

Those on the side looking at the human tragedy of this issue understand that the right to bear arms is not infinite, like every other right in the Constitution it is subject to reasonable limits. The callous extremism that has surfaced because of popular gun control proposals is irrational, as if getting a background check to buy a gun at a gun show is worse than having a loved one murdered. This was Minnesota radio host Bob Davis’ insinuation on April 12 when he told Newtown families “deal with it, and don’t force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss.”

President Obama called it a “shameful day in Washington” when the background checks amendment, a very modest gun restriction measure, was defeated — which both of this state’s Senators voted against. Anyone who watches Congress knows it has more than its share of shameful days. This was a mere baby step and its defeat was a victory for the gun lobbyists, but the gun lobbyists’ approach of denial and unwillingness to compromise is taking them along the same road traveled by the tobacco industry.

The outcome is destined to be the same — the public no longer believes what they say, credibility and influence diminish. More than 30,000 victims of gun violence each year is not just a cost we all should get used to. Those on the side of sensible gun reform legislation will eventually prevail.

Bill Dayton