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Let's find gun laws everyone can live with

Mar 14, 2013 - Ellen Dudley, Dubois

Editor:

I am a hunter and gun owner who is concerned about gun laws.

When I lived in Kenya, laws there required gun owners to submit to background checks and register their guns to demonstrate their ability to use the guns, and to provide secure storage for their guns when they were not in use.

If any of your guns went missing, you could be fined, and in the case of gross negligence, you could lose your right to own a gun. In the house I rented, the gun safe was set in concrete.

British and European friends in Kenya said their countries had similar laws. In those countries the issue of the right to bear arms was evidently not confused with the issue of legislating for the responsible use of those arms.

Nor, it seems, did we Americans confuse those two issues in 1934 when ill we passed the National Fire Arms Act which, among other things, strictly regulated the private ownership of machine guns. The act was upheld in 1939 by the Supreme Court, which found it entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.

How, then, have we, a nation that once found it reasonable and do-able to regulate for the responsible use of firearms, been stampeded to the entrenched and intransigent position that gun-use legislation is nothing less than an attack on our Second Amendment rights? We have stood by while the NRA and gun industry, in the name of defending the Constitution, have squashed debate and used personal attacks and threats to livelihoods to silence those who questioned their domination.

We have not been outraged enough by their callous response to gun violence and their mantra that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." when we know that the horror a sick person might want to wreak with a gun on the public will not have such consequences if he can not get his hands on a gun.

Sixteen years ago, when a sick person with an assault weapon massacred people in Australia, Australia passed legislation banning assault weapons and offered to purchase the weapons from assault weapon owners. Australia meant business, and millions of assault weapons were turned in. In 16 years Australia has not had another assault weapon incident, and Australians have continued hunting and owning guns.

We citizens who want effective gun laws, along with legislators, members of the NRA and gun industry need to come together for the common good to construct laws that will ban assault weapons and magnum clips, keep guns out of the wrong hands, and foster the responsible use of guns. How many more people have to get gunned down before we do?

We who want gun legislation that we can all live with need to make our voices heard. We need to insist our representatives give us effective gun laws and we need to boycott those in the NRA, the gun industry and its associated industries who come to the table as obstacles rather than allies.

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