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Consider all options before instating new gun control

I am writing this as a gun owner. I do have ambivalent feelings about the current call for greater gun control. I would love to find some way to prevent tragedies like Newtown. However, I don’t think knee jerk reactions will help and, the older I get, the more convinced the strongest law in the universe is the law of unintended consequences, especially when it comes to legislation.

In discussions with other gun owners, my first question was, “What is an assault weapon?” Here is a Wikipedia definition: “Assault weapon (semiautomatic) refers primarily, but not exclusively, to firearms that possess the cosmetic features of an assault rifle, which are fully automatic. Actually possessing the operational features, such as ‘full-auto,’ is not required for classification as an assault weapon. Merely the possession of cosmetic features is enough to warrant such classification as an assault weapon. Semi-automatic firearms, when fired, automatically extract the spent cartridge casing and load the next cartridge into the chamber, ready to fire again. They do not fire automatically, like a machine gun. Rather, only one round is fired, with each trigger pull.”

Cosmetic features? This is what is going to prevent a massacre? We are applying a term that has no real meaning. On the other hand, I have owned semiautomatic handguns. Anything you try to ban can cover something totally unrelated.

I don’t think we should throw up our hands and say there is nothing we can do, but I think we need to spend some time thinking this through. For one thing, since two of the recent, high-publicity attacks have involved people with a history of mental illness, I think we need to be more proactive about treating and destigmatizing mental illness.

In spite of these highly-publicized and tragic cases, there is still a lot of controversy over whether more guns leads to more violence. FBI statistics have shown violent crime has been on the decrease for years, but the CDC shows that gun fatalities and injuries have remained steady.

I hope we can take the time to craft legislation that does not harm legitimate gun owners, yet, does have an effect on these tragedies. I compare this to DUI. We keep passing laws to prevent car fatalities, yet, when someone does kill another person while driving drunk, they almost always have previous convictions. Are we passing laws, then not enforcing them? Or, are we passing ineffective laws? Or, is it impossible to prevent the wild card, without banning all? We don’t currently ban alcohol or cars; we just live with the problem, in order that responsible drinkers and drivers can have their rights protected.

I don’t have the answers. I just want the discussion to be thoughtful and thorough, before useless action that hurts the innocent is taken.

Laurel Ebert

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