Time to consider gun regulations

Published 10:48 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another day, another high-profile fatal shooting. This time two journalists were murdered on live television. 

Below is a portion of a column of mine that published following the mass shooting in South Carolina. It’s relevant yet again. I am an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and a gun owner, but something has to change. 

Following another gun-related tragedy, it’s prudent to ask: Would tougher gun regulations have prevented this unimaginable horror?

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It’s the same question we ask every time something of this magnitude happens, and the list of mass shootings is growing longer. Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine. Those are the big ones we remember, but there have been others. Some media reports peg the number at 62 over the last 30 years.

It’s reasonable to assume that a world without guns would be less violent. But we don’t live in a world without guns — and we never will. Regardless of your views on gun control, there’s no getting around the Second Amendment. Guns always have been, and always will be, part of our country.

I’m a gun owner. I grew up with guns and have enjoyed shooting ever since getting my first .22 rifle. I hunt with my guns, but that’s not the only reason I own them. I also have them in my house as a security measure.

But even for the most ardent supporter of gun rights, it’s sometimes difficult to form a cohesive defense when those rights are challenged following a shooting. We simply come back to: it’s the Second Amendment. We don’t have much else beyond that. As long as the Bill of Rights means something in this country, that position will be enough.

But that doesn’t mean reasonable restrictions on gun ownership don’t make sense. Already, courts have decided that the Second Amendment isn’t a blanket protection to own any type of gun. Fully automatic firearms are more heavily regulated than shotguns.

Most gun owners see that as a reasonable measure. Anyone  wanting to own a fully automatic weapon must register with the federal government. There’s not been much outcry about that, even among gun rights supporters.

So would our country benefit from tougher regulations on all types of guns? Would we be safer? Probably. If all gun owners were required to attend a training session, there would probably be fewer gun accidents.

If all guns had some type of device that only allowed them to be fired by their owners, there would less gun violence because criminals, in theory, wouldn’t be able to use stolen firearms.

If those with mental illness were kept from purchasing firearms, there would probably be fewer fatal shooting incidents.

The list of so-called “common sense” regulations is long, and most would likely reduce gun violence.

They may not have prevented a disgruntled employee from fatally shooting two former coworkers on live television Wednesday, but if those regulations prevent just one death a year they are worth pursuing. At the very least, can we as a nation have a conversation about gun regulations? Can we explore the possibility of saving lives with common-sense rules that make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to own firearms?


Luke Horton is the publisher of The Daily Leader.