This Sunday Forum is in response to “Politicians renew call for gun reform after Vegas shooting” (Oct. 2).
Protect N.C. residents
What happened in Las Vegas could easily happen in North Carolina. The country needs better gun laws that reduce the sale of weapons that automatically fire hundreds of rounds per minute. A proposed bill in Congress to allow concealed weapons to cross state lines regardless of other states’ carry laws must not get off the ground, and Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis need to reject the bill to legalize silencers, which would make it difficult to hear a mass shooter.
Several North Carolina legislators, including Burr and Tillis, have received large NRA campaign contributions, but it’s time for them to put the safety of the residents of North Carolina above the politicized gun values of the NRA. Are our representatives able to stand up to the NRA and protect North Carolina residents?
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We can compromise on gun control with regard to mass shootings. To do so, we need to move away from an all-or-nothing debate and toward solutions that meet the concerns of all parties. Demonizing gun owners and the organizations that represent them is not productive. Please seek out those with differing views on this issue, so we can understand each other and solve this problem together.
Personally, I support the idea of limiting civilian access to weapons of mass destruction. This doesn’t mean no access but perhaps access within a controlled environment such as a shooting range. It could mean mechanical changes to make reloading slower. Such a principle would preserve civilian ownership of guns for protection and recreation. Will mass murderers find another approach, like a bomb? Maybe, but not always. What about background checks? They can help, but people change. My views aside, let’s unite to find a lasting, principled solution. We can do this.
When will it stop?
I teach at a high school in Chapel Hill. We regularly hold “code blue” drills that are meant to prepare kids for the event of a school shooting. The drills are routine, each rehearsal identical to the ones before it.
They usually happen like this: The students huddle in small groups against the wall and practice being quiet while I’m in my head thinking of what I would do if this situation was real. I’m filling the empty spaces where there is no protocol with my own plan: If he’s outside my door, I’d drag the heaviest object in the room (my desk) and push it up against the entryway. Make sure I have my phone. Do not dig through my purse to find my phone. I have to know where everything is. I have to know where everyone is and is not.
I don’t know what I’ll do if the shooter still manages to get through the barricaded doors; I haven’t figured this part out yet. But I do know that when our founding forefathers adopted the Second Amendment in 1791, they couldn’t see a future with automatic weapons. They didn’t have to consider the risks of one man killing 58 people and injuring hundreds. I also know that our senators seem to believe that the right to own machine guns and automatic weapons is worth more than the lives of children attending North Carolina schools. How many more shootings will there have to be before there’s a Raleigh or Chapel Hill? When will our senators advocate for gun laws that restrict assault weapons that can fire multiple rounds and are designed to kill? Teachers and parents of North Carolina are waiting to hear their answers. In the meantime, I’ll be with my students, practicing and preparing for the worst.
We have building codes so people don’t die in fires or fall down stairs. I struggle to open my pill bottles because regulations were passed to protect young children from poisoning. I have to wait in line and take off my shoes at the airport. I hear they are adding sensors to new cars to remind parents not to leave kids or pets in the back seat when it is hot, a phenomenal effort at great expense to save a few dozen lives each year.
But there is nothing we can do to stop Americans with high-power military weapons from murdering concertgoers or first graders? I am sick of prayers and platitudes when concrete actions are required to save lives. None of us are “free” when we fear for our lives at public events.
I have little regard for GOP politicians saying this is not the time to discuss gun control. If not now, and every other time one of these tragedies happens, then when is it appropriate? Guns in America cause 33,000 deaths annually and 11,000 murders annually. On average seven children/teens are killed by guns per day. If any other product was being manufactured and sold in the United States causing these kinds of death rates, this country would demand changes in policy.
As the father of a law enforcement officer, it angers me when politicians say what a great job law enforcement did preventing even more deaths. These same politicians bowed to the NRA and enacted laws preventing the ATF from electronically storing serial numbers on firearms and continuously fail to write laws preventing private gun sales without background checks or even registering who the gun was sold to. These politicians literally are preventing officers from effectively running traces on weapons known to be used in crimes. How is that supporting our police?
‘The price we pay’
Prayers, but no gun control. Condolences, but no gun control. Grief, but no gun control. Anger, despair, fear, pain, desperation, incomprehension, disbelief, but no gun control. Texas Tower, Columbine, Lucy’s Cafeteria, Virginia Tech, Orlando, Sandy Hook, to name only a few, and still no gun control. And now Las Vegas.
Everything suggests that we can expect the same outcome, no gun control. According to the NRA and gun advocates in general it seems to be the price we have to pay for freedom.