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Yes, I’m a gun owner, a hunter, a user of firing ranges and a long-time supporter of the second amendment.
I carry a concealed handgun legally in the Commonwealth of Virginia and I’m not ashamed to admit it or allow my permit be part of the public record.
And, yes, I believe assault-style weapons should be banned and gun restrictions should be tightened in America.
America is an increasingly violent nation, one where disagreements too often devolve into arguments, fights and criminal acts.
And, as a reporter who covers courts and police activity for newspapers and other media, I see an increasing number of so-called “law abiding” citizens under arrest and in court for situations where such disagreements end in violence.
In Virginia, it is now legal for a concealed weapons permit holder to carry a hidden firearm into a bar. The law says such permit holders must not consume alcohol, which is not a problem for me as a recovering alcoholic with 18-and-a-half years plus of sobriety.
But it is a problem for people that I know who do carry their concealed firearms in local bars and who do drink while carrying those weapons.
It also is a problem for someone who gets into an argument with someone who has been drinking and who ends up pulling a firearm to settle that argument.
In recent months, I have covered a number of court cases involving someone with no criminal record who got into such an argument and tried to settle that argument with their legally owned and carried firearms.
They acted in an illegal manner. Two are now in prison. One is awaiting trial.
Statistics in Virginia and elsewhere show such crimes are increasing, too often involving persons with no previous arrest or criminal records. An increasing number of domestic arguments now end in shootings and/or murder, too often committed by someone with no record and committed with a firearm legally purchased and owned.
An increasing number of children are killed by other kids who found a handgun at home and brought it to a playground or school and the gun was fired and someone was injured or killed. In too many cases, that gun was legally owned by a parent with no criminal record.
Let’s face it. Guns in this nation are too easy to buy, too easy to own and too easy to misuse.
Since gun laws have been relaxed in this nation, the increase in arrests of people for illegally brandishing a firearms in a tense situation have quadrupled. In more than 90 percent of the cases, the use of that firearm was by someone with no previous arrests.
As for assault-style weapons, I used to own such weapons. I found I seldom used them, except for occasional target practice, and I also found that too many people that I knew who did own them did so to serve their testosterone. That is a situation that invites trouble. Now I own just handguns and firearms for hunting.
The National Rifle Association claims attempts to ban assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines are a violation of the second-amendment right to own weapons. That is crap. The amendment guarantees a citizen’s right to own a firearm but it does not limit the government’s ability to limit the legality of some firearms. Private ownership of automatic weapons is illegal. So is private ownership of Cruise missiles. Does the NRA see that as a constitutional question?
It’s time to bring some sanity back into this debate. Yes, law-abiding Americans have a right to own firearms but that right should be subject to background checking and greater scrutiny. Perhaps testing should be part of the right to bear arms. You have to prove you can drive a car. Why not prove you can safely and responsibly own a firearm.
Let’s look at the issue responsibly and debate it with facts, not hyperbole.
Which means the NRA and other groups like them on both sides of the issue should shut up and let the adults take over.
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