EDITORIAL: Where are the voices of responsible gun owners?

Published 10:50 am Saturday, February 17, 2018

Just three days removed and we are already starting to fall into the familiar cycle of inaction following the massacre that took the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida Wednesday.

There has been more and more talk of thoughts and prayers, but as the frustration mounts on almost all fronts, Congressional leaders and our president have done little in terms of meaningful action in regard to this country’s addiction to the gun.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday insisted Congress focus on existing laws that include preventing mentally ill people from getting guns. President Donald Trump echoed this promising to, “tackle the difficult issues of mental health.”

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Nice sentiments, but they fly in the face of a president and Congress who rolled back regulations early in the president’s term that the Obama administration put in place to make it more difficult for those suffering mental illness from attaining assault-style weapons such as the AR-15 that suspect 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used in this savage assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

It’s the sort of sad doublespeak we have become used to from our leaders in Washington, D.C.

When Stephen Paddock launched his assault on the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 of last year — the single deadliest mass shooting to date in the United States — he stole the lives of 58 people using a modified AR-15 that featured a bump stock.

The bump stock allows the weapon to be converted from semi-automatic to automatic. For the briefest of moments there seemed to be a cautious nod of optimism as both sides of the aisle vowed to take a good hard look at the modification.

And yet here we are today, in February, and nothing has been done.

Parents are frustrated, angry. Children are scared, confused — and yet no institution with any kind of real leverage in this area has stepped forward to start the process.

On Thursday, Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, in an interview with CNN, kept referring to responsible gun owners and alluded to the possibility that they may be hurt in any kind of move for gun regulation.

That brings up a good question: Where are the responsible gun owners?

Responsibility defined by Merriam-Webster: 1) The quality or state of being responsible: such as, a — moral, legal or mental accountability; b — Something for which one is responsible.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that our leaders have become mired in the swamp of inactivity. If they truly wanted to change the society they governed, something — anything — would have been done by now.

How can we not be expected to turn our hopes to the responsible gun owners they refer to so often? Those people who enjoy using firearms should know the burden they carry to make sure they and those around them are kept safe.

Now, that shouldn’t mean we start arming more people. It is being circulated through some editorial cartoons and internet memes that we go so far as to arm teachers.

It is our belief that would be the wrong move. We need fewer guns in society, not more — and this is where responsible gun owners could make a difference.

This editorial is not meant to be a glib, sarcastic attack on those who own guns. It’s a request, a call to arms, to help make the moves our government leaders won’t make.

So many are flying the flag of the Second Amendment, fearing that government is taking all of their guns, citing arguments like “what’s next?”

First off, no, the government is not taking all your guns. It’s impractical and silly to think that any group can take all the guns from the world. But why shouldn’t AR-15s, given the central role the gun has served in the violent culture of mass shootings, be banned from public use?

Why does any hunter need a high-capacity magazine?

Why should it be so easy for somebody suffering from mental illness to attain a weapon of this power?

All these questions can be answered and it’s from the responsible gun owners that this charge can be led. This is common sense in the face of a governing body that refuses to use any kind of sense.

We know there are responsible gun owners out there, many of whom are now stepping forward to voice concerns about where we are headed. Take up the cause of safety. Help lead us back from the edge.

Seventeen families are hurting today while millions of other families are wondering why this continues to happen or, more terrifyingly, when will it happen again?

We plead with those outdoorsmen, those responsible gun owners to help take up the battle to bring normality back to America where our kids can go to school again without fear; where today they openly wonder why the adults aren’t doing anything.

Guns are here to stay, so let’s do the responsible thing and start taking those steps that will make us all safer.