Opinion: Yes, there is a middle ground on guns

The NRA Institute for Legislative Action states (July 21, 2017): “The bottom line is that the Left already knows their gun control schemes do not work; criminals and terrorists have proven it. Yet they keep demanding that Americans submit to more and more restrictive gun laws. Perhaps it is not gun control they are seeking. Maybe they are just seeking control”.

“Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them.” – Phoebe Maltz Bovy, New Republic, Dec. 10, 2015.

I own a rifle. And, I love to go target shooting. But, that doesn’t mean I believe everyone should have a gun, or that no one should.

After the Texas church massacre by a man with a gun, we heard that then was not the time for action to prevent gun violence. It was a time for contemplation. Well, that was months ago.

Now, we have had another shooting; this time in a school in western Kentucky. And, President Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, repeats that same old stuff about our prayers go out to you. Haven’t our politicians done enough contemplating and praying?

I am tired of politicians saying after each firearms massacre that we should just pray for an end to gun violence, like that is the answer. Our Texas brothers and sisters were praying. They were shot in a church. So were our brothers and sisters in Charleston not long ago.

I am tired of hearing politicians say that these shooters are mentally ill — and then doing absolutely nothing to prevent crazy people from getting firearms.

I am tired of hearing the gun lobby say that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun. We have many times the guns per capita of other developed nations. We have much more gun violence, not less, due to the number of guns.

Furthermore, I am tired of reading that there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do to prevent gun violence short of confiscating all guns. That is an oft-repeated lie.

Is there a middle ground between the far right and the far left on guns? Of course there is — and that is where most Americans are in regard to this issue, although there definitely are different views, depending on if you own a gun.

According to a Pew survey last April, 42 percent of Americans live in a household with guns and 72 percent have shot a gun at some point. These Americans will never accept confiscation of their guns; nor should they have to do so.

Almost half of that 42 percent indicate that all or most of their friends have guns. Plus, 74 percent of these gun owners say a gun “is essential to their own sense of freedom”. For non-gun owners, the figure is only 35 percent.

However, the same survey found that there were some areas of gun control agreement between owners and non-owners. All of these proposals had over 50 percent approval from both owners and non-owners: a.) stopping the mentally ill from owning guns; b.) having extensive background checks, including at gun shows; c.) stopping people on watch lists from having guns; and d.) maintaining an accurate firearms federal database.

Proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines were supported by most Americans (68 percent and 65 percent, respectively). However, less than a majority of gun owners agreed (48 percent and 44 percent, respectively).

There are those spokesman on the extreme right, often recipients of gun manufacturer lobbying money, who say that the American public is too divided on gun control and that coming up with a legislative solution is folly. Analyzing the results of this survey conclusively proves that they are absolutely incorrect in their biased assumptions.

What is lacking is the political will by Congress and our state legislatures to move forward. Progress will only be made if enough of us contact our state and federal elected officials and let them know that we are tired of the procrastination. If they want to keep their jobs, we demand action now at long last.

Jack Bernard, the first director of health planning for Georgia, has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.

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