Thoughtful discussion on gun control needed

Will it ever be possible to have a more thoughtful dialog on the topic of gun control? Every time it comes up in the Mirror, there are semi-automatic responses (pun intended). Even after the deranged killings in Florida, I kind of knew it would happen again — our new normal — no action by Congress.

Instead, we heard more from the “good guy with a gun” theorists and more advocates citing Newtown as a reason for arming people in our schools. A relative of mine was the so-called “good guy with a gun.” He was shot in the head and killed by a couple attempting to rob his wife. The idea that every gun owner is just one heroic moment from being a fast-draw crack shot is just not reality. Even trained police officers miss at close range. Imagine how much worse it might have been in that Florida nightclub if open-carry and concealed-carry patrons drew their guns amid the chaos of gunfire and people screaming and running for cover. Are a majority of people really against having gun-free zones? Our Legislature appears to think so by introducing a bill to allow guns into venues like Century Link Stadium, Safeco Field and Key Arena. Just in case folks haven’t kept up with current events, a King County woman was shot in the back at a movie theater by an intoxicated patron sitting behind her.

There are actually discussions that could be had about gun violence in America, but it seems we always end up with false choices entrenched in opposing party positions. Clearly the United States was fought and paid for in blood by armed citizens. It would be a truth to see a commercial say, “Gun running, it’s what people do when liberty and democracy are threatened.” Given that context, it’s not that difficult to understand why some folks fear anything akin to Shogun Hideyoshi’s Sword Hunt or other moves to prevent their ability to own and carry arms because you just never know when that doggone coup d’état might occur.

That said, it’s also pretty clear that many people support background checks for the purchase of a firearm as a reasonable thing to do. The laws restricting gun sales have been on the books since L.B.J. was president, but the technology and data management to enforce them has been lacking. After the horrific killings at Newtown, I actually recall the head of the National Rifle Association hinting at possibly supporting mental health legislation. Unfortunately, being morally and intellectually bankrupt, the parties wanted their way or the highway and forced the NRA back on message. In some ways, the parties act like a new form of monarchy controlling everything that goes – or doesn’t.

Like the line from “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Our party monarchy stays on message about registration being the first step toward a sword hunt or fuels the fire of conspiracy with threats of banning swords of a certain length or actually wanting to hold a sword hunt. They move farther away from the middle ground where we seem content to eat our cake and watch them do nothing useful … and yet the checks just keep on coming.

Hiroshi Eto, Federal Way

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