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Gun control is certainly a hot topic these days, isn’t it? Once again, the media has hopped on some recent shootings and given them more coverage than necessary, prompting politicians to jump on one bandwagon or another, depending on who they are trying to impress. So what does your local columnist think? I’m not really sure; let’s find out together.

I’ve never shot a gun. You could put one in my hands and I wouldn’t have much of a clue. It doesn’t mean I’m against hunting and other gun-related activities; I’ve just never had an interest. Apparently, when I was a wee tot, Dad came home with a deer he had shot and I cried because I thought he had killed Bambi. That traumatic experience kept my dad from hunting, so I wasn’t really exposed to it after that time.

Frankly, at times, the idea of a gun in the hands of some of my students frightens me. Some kids show such little maturity at school that I wonder how they can handle that responsibility. Then I see pictures online of some of these stars proudly displaying their hunting efforts. They’ve gone through gun training. They’re with an adult. It’s all good. Some kids have found an activity they enjoy and are good at, so more power to them. It also provides good family time for some of these folks.

As a teacher, the idea of a school shooting is scary. Most school shootings don’t occur with hunting guns though. Again, I think so many of those kids are taught respect for a gun, and that shouldn’t be a concern. It’s the people who have access to all kinds of other weaponry. Look at the incident in Waseca not long ago. There were a number of guns in addition to the bomb materials. How do we allow teenagers to get their hands on guns like that?

This is the flaw in the system. There are always people who will sell something to anyone, as was allegedly the case in Waseca. Someone needed money and sold a gun to a teenager with murder on his mind. I don’t know the answer to this; I don’t think anything the government does will halt criminals.

Some people just want to take all the guns away. In addition to being unconstitutional, it still wouldn’t stop guns from being illegally manufactured and sold, but now the law-abiding citizens wouldn’t have them. I won’t say that I’m exceptionally comfortable with all these people with permits carrying guns around, but I have to trust the system that vets them before allowing that, the same as I trust the people who issue licenses to drivers.

I do think we could limit the types of guns that are sold to Joe Citizen though. Do you really need assault weapons? Again, it’s not that some people can’t handle them responsibly, but the danger of them falling into the hands of a mentally-disturbed person or any youngster should preclude the ability of just anyone to get them. I know there are rules to follow and background checks done, but those are fallible too.

If you want a gun for hunting or to carry on yourself for your personal safety, I have no beef with that. I enjoy venison, and someone could be there to save me someday because he or she is armed. The bad guys will always get whatever they want, but if we can limit what is available to most people, there is much less chance of those weapons falling into the hands of people with murder on the mind.

For this same reason, I’m very uncomfortable with people who propose that teachers carry guns. Kids can be pretty devious, and it wouldn’t take much for an accident to happen or for a determined child to get ahold of one of those school-sanctioned weapons. No, thank you; I would foresee even more gun violence in schools if that happened.

The way I see it, there are really two solutions that can help halt these outbreaks. We need to do a better job of diagnosing mental illness for one. So many of these shooters are shown to have instability. We can ask why nobody has done anything, and the truth of the matter is that the system is so overloaded. We have mental health professionals in schools who can’t keep up with all the requests for help; what must it be like outside of schools?

The other solution is stop giving so much airtime to these delinquents. In our 24-hour news cycle, CNN and Fox News can be counted on to spend much of that time on the latest gun incident. That’s exactly what many of these shooters want. They go out in a blaze of glory and get their name and faces all over the TV. That’s part of their dream. I wouldn’t mind being on TV, but surely not in that manner. Once the TV gurus stop doing more than giving a brief snippet to the shooters, you will see the number of incidents decrease.

At the end of the day, I’m still not sure how I feel overall. Some areas of gun control could be tightened, but I don’t want to make it so only bad guys have guns. Unfortunately, our politicians can likely be counted on to fumble this issue, especially with an election a year away. In the meantime, please be safe with your weapons, especially with hunting season upon us!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is ambit, which means scope or range, as in, “The legislature decided to limit the ambit of weapons available for purchase.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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