To the Editor:
It’s time to rethink gun control.
The massacre at Columbine High School, the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the recent movie-theater massacre at Aurora, Colo., (along with the hundreds of less horrific shootings each year) should inspire us to rethink gun control.
We need not point fingers and play the blame game; there is way too much of that in Washington already. Instead, lawmakers should look long and hard at ways to keep guns, especially assault weapons, out of the hands of criminals and evildoers.
Maybe we should look at other countries with effective gun laws. Canada and most European countries have fairly strict gun laws. As one might expect, they also have far fewer incidents of gun violence. I served as a soldier in Germany from 1983 to 1985. Assault weapons were strictly banned in Germany, and gun-owners were required to register their firearms at local police stations, where their guns were kept for safekeeping. If a German wanted to go hunting or target shooting at a firing range, he signed out his firearm from the police station, and then signed it back in when he was finished. Why not?
One night in Stuttgart, I rescued a young woman who was getting thrashed by a gang of thugs. There were four of them and only one of me, but I wasn’t too scared to intervene because I was fairly sure none of the thugs had a gun. I wouldn’t try that here in America. Probably I’d get shot. Indeed, I traveled extensively throughout Europe — England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands — and always felt safer on a dark street at midnight than I do in a large American city in broad daylight. There are too many violent and unbalanced people packing weapons in America nowadays, and the Trayvon Martin killing has shown they don’t need much of a reason to start shooting.
Unfortunately, the National Rifle Association wields enough political clout to stifle most efforts at gun control. Without really saying it in so many words, the NRA seems to believe that the occasional slaughter of innocents is the price we must pay to safeguard and retain our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. In a way, that might be true — but is it really worth it?
I think most of us would be willing to sacrifice some of our rights and freedoms for the greater good and benefit of us all. Politicians should put politics aside, ignore the NRA, and look for some common-sense solutions to the problem of gun violence. And they should do it now.