Love guns? Support gun control

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2016

I grew up in Texas as a member of the Boy Scouts.

So, it’s no surprise I was around guns from an early age. And it’s no surprise I love guns (and for my money, there’s nothing quite as satisfying to shoot as a .50 caliber black powder rifle).

That said, I am in favor of gun control. This is not a liberal/conservative, GOP/Democrat issue—or, it shouldn’t be. Gun control is an issue of public safety, and it’s time more gun advocates would join the conversation beyond repeating the platitudes of special interest groups.

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Yes, guns are ingrained into the American way of life, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be regulated. Our First Amendment—our very first one—that guarantees freedom of speech has plenty of restrictions. Just ask any libel lawyer or high school student; you can’t say anything you like at any time you like.

Guns are potentially far more dangerous than speech of course, and I think most gun owners understand this. To be fair, most gun owners are extremely responsible. The gun owners I know—especially those who grew up around them—understand they aren’t toys—they’re to be treated with respect and care.

It surprises me that so many responsible, thoughtful people don’t speak out in favor of reasonable measures for keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill or the criminally minded.

Too often I hear the old saying, “criminals will find a way to get guns.” By that logic, we should get rid of the drinking age and legalize all drugs, because teenagers … they’ll find a way.

I know, mere background checks, mandatory waiting periods and a national gun registry are not, in and of themselves, enough to keep us much safer, though they’re good first steps. To be safer, we need better social services—we need better access to public mental health facilities where sick people can find treatment and, ideally, we need to ensure some of those people will not be able to buy guns legally.

It is not un-American to restrict the liberties of people who pose a danger to themselves and others. In fact, it is imperative we do so.