Lewis Diuguid

May 25, 2014

Guns stir great emotions on both sides of debate

It’s disturbing that more than a year after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the nation has done nothing to strengthen gun control.

Guns have always stirred passions.

They give people a sense of power and control but generate fear and dread in others for the harm firearms cause. Gun owners also become animated about the Second Amendment and anyone seeking gun control or data about them.

The feelings are as great among people who’ve been threatened, shot or are a relative, friend or loved one of persons who’ve suffered gun violence. Many on both sides of the gun issue responded to my March 3 column, “In U.S., guns have more value than children.”

It’s disturbing that more than a year after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the nation has done nothing to strengthen gun control. But bills have passed in states like Kansas and Missouri to let some teachers and administrators have guns in schools. That’s no way to corral the epidemic of gun violence.

On the gun issue, Americans are dug in. Safety for gun advocates includes having more guns. For others, safety is about gun control and reducing the number of guns on the street. A mild comment from one gun advocate was: “Prohibition does not work for whiskey, guns or drugs.”

In the March column I mentioned gunshots less than a block from my Northeast area home. Police arrived, and someone was found dead on the street.

One email response was: “Before anything else, I would suggest that if people are being gunned down on your block, you should move.”

Running from trouble is an American tradition whether it’s to flee neighborhood and school integration, “not-in-my-backyard” projects or violence. People instead should work to make living conditions safer and better for everyone.

An emailer wrote: “‘It takes a village,’ right, Lewis? Wow. Let me know how all this works out in your private fantasy land.”

A different reader wrote: “Most of the gun damage is done by the ‘brothers in the ’hood.’ Do you want to disarm innocent, defenseless black people who need to defend themselves against predators on the street? Firearms are the only thing that keep the crooks from taking over the streets. Being anti-gun is racist….” He signed his email: “A white gun owning conservative who asks, without the Second Amendment, would we have a First?”

I liked this one: “I assume you have nothing to write about that has any redeeming social value so you decided to beat the old anti-gun drum again. The solution for you and others with the same anti-gun thinking is simple. If you don’t like guns, don’t buy one. There, wasn’t that easy?”

Another asked: “When will liberals learn passing laws does not mean things will change? If more laws changed people’s behavior we would never have drunk drivers.”

But there has been a serious reduction in drunken driving, and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have made a difference. The same grass-roots momentum is growing against guns and gun violence.

Encouragement came from people who’re as committed to ending gun violence as gun advocates are to firearms. One woman wrote: “It is frustrating that nothing is being done in Kansas or Missouri regarding common sense laws such as universal background checks. It would be easy to do nothing and just lament the status quo.”

But then she as well as several others told me about such groups as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. They aren’t as powerful as the gun lobby and they don’t have as many members.

But they are dedicated and growing. “Now can we find some way to make people listen?” one reader asked.

Lawmakers in state legislatures and Congress must listen and get out of the pocket of the gun lobby. Then finally we’ll holster guns and the problems they cause.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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