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Our View: Need for gun safety shouldn’t divide us

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Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 7:00 am

Little is as divisive today as the debate over gun control or gun safety (depending on your point of view). And that includes the proposal to ban high-capacity magazines currently before the Santa Fe City Council.

Citizens who believe that fewer rounds in the chamber will make people safer are ready to turn out in force for the City Council meeting tonight. The National Rifle Association has warned its members about this possible assault on what they view as crucial Second Amendment rights, so expect their backers to show up as well. We trust all sides will remain civil and respect differing points of view.

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Welcome to the discussion.

3 comments:

  • Jon Merrow posted at 9:15 pm on Thu, Jun 27, 2013.

    jemerrow Posts: 1

    Some good ideas, but you're missing a couple of things. I will say that I absolutely agree with the idea of focusing on gun safety and setting aside the idea that banning a certain type of gun or limiting magazine capacity, neither of which will do anything; that's already been proven from the lack of result from the original "assault" weapons ban.

    The NRA (not my favorite gun rights group, by the way) already does outreach and gun safety programs. Ever heard of Eddie Eagle? They've taught a lot of kids gun safety; the problem is that the places that need it the most are the places that think a kid should be expelled for drawing a gun, or pointing a finger/making a "gun shape" with their hand, at another student. They are far too afraid to say "gun" to let the NRA's gun safety program into their schools.

    Those places want to teach abstinence with guns, when we all know that it didn't work with sex or drugs, or at least not well enough. They hand out condoms, have drug dealers on campus, but would prefer to forbid thoughts of a gun, rather than face the safety issue directly.

    A few decades ago, schools had rifle teams and kids brought their rifles to school with them, on the school bus or other public transportation, walked to school with them slung on their back, etc.

    Of course, that was in the era of personal responsibility; something we are sorely lacking these days.

    Gun storage laws don't work, at least not in preventing deaths. The reason is simply, and should be obvious; the people who don't store their weapons safely and securely, to prevent access by children and thieves, aren't going to change their ways just because you pass a law. It goes back to personal responsibility. The people who care about personal responsibility already take their obligations to protect their weapons seriously, and take appropriate action.

    If you want simply to punish them after the fact, that is another matter. If it's after an accidental death or injury, especially of a child, can a legal problem really punish them any more than they are being punished, with the knowledge of their complicity in the accident?

    When it comes to theft, frankly there is little that will stop a determined thief. An opportunist may well be stopped by a large gun safe, but if you are the owner of a $400 handgun, are you really going to spend another $400 or more on a safe? No, you're not. Not even if the law says you have to. So, instead, you're going to go buy one of these $50 specials, that an opportunistic thief can take with them, or pry open on the spot. Either way, it makes no difference.

    If you have a larger firearms collection, then odds are you will take steps to protect them.

    Again, though, if you are the victim of a theft, are you not already suffering enough? Should you be punished because someone broke into your house or car? What if you were home and it was a home invasion? They shot you, or otherwise subdued you before you had a chance to defend yourself, maybe because you were in the bathroom and your gun was on the end table, so it wasn't locked up. Maybe you ran to the store on the corner and because you were only going to be gone for 5 minutes, you didn't lock it up, or say you live in an apartment and went to get the mail? Should you be punished for a momentary lapse? How many times have you left your wallet or cell phone behind when you're running late for work? Suppose you forget to move your gun from the top drawer of the nightstand to the safe?

    In either case, you're talking about making things worse for people who are already victimized. Do you think the guy who gets an unexpected visit from a friend and the friend's child, when the child finds the gun and accidentally kills his father, should the gun owner be held responsible? (That happened last week). What about the parent's responsibility to teach gun safety to the child? (He was a gun owner himself)

    As far as suicides, one word: Japan. They have no guns, but twice the suicide rate of the US. If you want to reduce suicides, focus on the mental health aspect. If I wanted to kill myself right now, not counting guns, I can think of two other effective ways to do it without having to leave my living room. I can come up with three more that wouldn't require significant effort, within easy reach. Guns aren't the problem, they just make it a little easier; even that, though, is debatable.

    Along with gun storage laws, we'd need to lock up our kitchen (and other) knives and sharp tools, medications (prescription and over the counter), ropes, long extension cords, and make sure people have no buildings, bridges or cliffs to jump off of, no trains, buses, or tractor trailers to jump in front of, and however else people might choose to commit suicide. Oh, yeah, lets not forget household chemicals, pesticide and poisons.

    Someone determined to kill themselves will find a way, and many of them are simpler, easier, more effective and more peaceful than using a gun. If you look at reports of people who attempt suicide with a shotgun and "miss", leaving themselves alive, but seriously damaged, you'll see that even what should be an absolute guarantee isn't. I was an EMT for several years. I transported one of those patients. It's not pretty. Mine was lucky; he died in the ER later.

    In almost every case where guns are blamed, they are not the problem; they're simply an easy to blame component of the event. The gun is never responsible for what happens; that always falls on a person.

    So, I applaud you for taking a better position than most, but I ask that you stop and consider things further. If you want to reduce gun deaths. then we need to focus on 1) teaching and regularly reinforcing gun safety, starting in Kindergarten or even "Head Start", and continuing it through High School graduation.
    2) mental health
    3) fixing the crime problem in Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. If you remove those four cities from the statistics of the US, we would move from 3rd highest, to 4th from the bottom, worldwide in homicides. Throw NYC in there, since we all know that they're up there too. Funny, considering how strict the gun laws in those cities are, isn't it? Those would also fall into the category I mentioned above about being too afraid of guns to allow the NRA's Eddie Eagle program into their schools.

    If you want to have a real conversation about reducing gun deaths, then let's cut to the heart of the issue, and get to work.

     
  • Jake Syma posted at 12:47 pm on Thu, Jun 27, 2013.

    JakeSyma Posts: 1

    Proposed bridge over gun divide built on shaky foundation
    http://www.examiner.com/article/proposed-bridge-over-gun-divide-built-on-shaky-foundation

    If any of the editorial staff would like to respond, they should feel free to do so... either:

    1.) Here, in the Comments;
    2.) In the Comments section of Mr. Codrea's Examiner piece; or,
    3.) On his Facebook*

    Best,

    Jake Syma.

    *https://www.facebook.com/david.codrea/posts/10200781306366273

     
  • Khal Spencer posted at 6:38 am on Wed, Jun 26, 2013.

    Khal Spencer Posts: 298

    Excellent op-ed and a breath of fresh air in the room. Some of us in the bicycle and motorcycle community have made the same arguments about the need for more self-responsibility for the operation of the auto, and about the need to penalize what you call "stupidity" and I agree.

    its about time we stopped attacking law abiding behavior and instead started with both education and accountability. To get there, we have to stop antagonizing each other. My biggest beef with this bill is that by trampling on the state constitution, the City of Santa Fe needlessly pokes its opponents in the eye rather than asking them to sit at the same table.

     
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