Gun discussion should focus first on saving lives

February 15, 2013 

From the time of the Wild West with its standoffs on the streets to our own day with our young people slaughtering each other on the streets, we have fostered, in our worship of guns, an illogical culture of death. The questions are why have we done this when the other developed nations have banned most guns and strictly controlled the use of the others?

How long can we accept that with only 5 percent of the world’s population we have 50 percent of the world’s guns? Young people in gangs on the streets of our cities are destroying not only each other, but also numerous bystanders who happen to be in range.

The NRA and other gun-culture groups lobby us with statistics that say that most guns are located in people’s homes and owned by ordinary, healthy individuals. That is true. They also say that only a small number of the deaths from guns come from mass murders. That is also true, however the number of mass murders in this country every year dwarf those of other countries. Clearly the more guns that are easily available in any nation means a corresponding rise in needless deaths.

Also, there are guns and there are guns. The ones used in the time that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution were muzzle-loaded muskets and flintlock pistols. Many (including Thomas Jefferson) were afraid that the Constitution, like the previous Articles of Confederation, would not work.

They wanted to assure the ability of the people to form another government should it be needed. However much has changed since then. The government they founded has existed now for 237 years, and guns are now a different thing altogether. Our assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns don’t even relate to what they were talking about. I have no doubt from my readings of Thomas Jefferson that he would be in favor of strict gun controls today!

I know that guns are a part of our tradition and engrained in our culture. I recognize that needed gun laws will be hard on gun shops and even some gun enthusiasts. My uncle was very proud of his gun collection and often took me out to out to shoot them with him. But that is not the issue. Saving thousands of lives is the issue. Does not the saving of lives take precedence over everything else? Isn’t that where this discussion should be centered?

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

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