Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 27, 2013

Gun control issue requires compromise

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Mr. Smokey Shott’s column on gun control in the wake of the latest mass shooting missed the mark on a few key points.

First of all, I think it’s safe to say that the news media does carry some bias. MSNBC and the Huffington Post are unapologetic in their liberal bias, just as Fox News only seems “fair and balanced” if you are a die-hard conservative.

Early reports that an AR-15 style weapon were used during the naval yard shooting stem mostly from bad reporting. Eyewitnesses to the massacre made statements indicating that the shooter pointed a “rifle” at them. In the heat of the moment I would imagine that it would be easy for someone to confuse a shotgun for a rifle.

What really bothers me about Shott’s column is the underlying contextual assertion that this was somehow less bad because it was just a run of the mill shotgun that was used to slaughter innocent people. What this shooting reiterates is that AR-15s are not the only weapon that can be used to conduct a mass shooting, and as such potential gun control efforts should be broadened to include more than just assault rifles.

As for Mr. Shott’s “gun free zone” argument, security and police with guns responded very quickly by all accounts. The “good guys with guns” were on the scene. Some of them got shot. While I do enjoy shooting and hunting from time to time, I don’t think providing civilians with more guns will do anything to curb violence, especially since most mass shootings occur in a matter of minutes and police tend to respond quickly.

I do agree with Mr. Shott that the shooter in this case shouldn’t have had access to a firearm. This simply means that we need more stringent background checks that would prevent the mentally ill or those with a history of gun-related legal incidents from obtaining guns. Current background checks are a step in the right direction, but are obviously inadequate. We also need to close gun show and private sale loopholes, as it is exceptionally easy for criminals and the mentally ill to purchase firearms from private sellers, no questions asked. There needs to be uniformity in these laws, which would also cut down on gun trafficking from less restrictive states to more restrictive states (such as the highway of gun transfers from the south to Chicago and Detroit).

It’s time to talk about the gun issue as a nation, and as adults. There are obviously some major problems in our country regarding firearm violence, and I believe that we can take common sense steps to curb this epidemic (look at the gun violence and murder rates over the years in Australia, Norway, Sweden, etc. for proof that gun control can have a positive impact). In true democratic fashion, though, these steps must come from discussion, debate and subsequent compromise from both sides of the aisle.

John McCormick