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Let’s cut the BS

Ted Streuli is the associate publisher and editor at the Oklahoma City-based Journal Record, a sister publication of the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Ted Streuli is the associate publisher and editor at the Oklahoma City-based Journal Record, a sister publication of the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Let’s cut the bullshit.

Despite last week’s mass murder in Florida and its many predecessors, I don’t want to take away your gun. If you want to keep a pistol in your nightstand because you think that’s the best way to protect your family, I have no objection. I think you should be knowledgeable and competent in its use for the same reasons you should be competent behind the wheel of your car – if you don’t know how to use it there’s a darn good chance of a very bad accident and innocent people could die.

If you like to shoot deer, or quail, or feral hogs, by all means, keep your rifle or shotgun. I have no more objection to that than I do to you owning a fishing pole. You should know how to use it. Carry it unloaded with the muzzle pointed toward the ground, be aware of what’s behind your target, maintain it so it doesn’t misfire. We’re trying to kill deer and make jerky, not shoot the kids on the next farm over, but I don’t care one bit if you want to spend your weekends hunting any more than I care if you spend them bowling or throwing darts.

If you enjoy shooting at paper targets, take your Ruger or your Smith & Wesson to a range and place a wager with your friends that you can put five in a tighter grouping than they can. Have fun. If you win, go home and frame the target.

I do not believe that just anyone – a felon, a sociopath, a husband who just found out his wife’s been unfaithful – should be able to walk into a store or a fairgrounds gun show on Saturday afternoon and walk out with a flamethrower or a box of hand grenades. Just about everyone I know thinks that would be a very bad idea.

I don’t think that just anyone should be able to walk into a store or get on the internet and order up automatic weapons for the same reason I don’t think flamethrowers and hand grenades should be available to the general public.

And if you agree with any part of that, you’re in favor of gun control. Not everyone should be allowed to have whatever weapon they feel like packing around. We agree there should be a line drawn somewhere; our disagreement, if we have one, is about where exactly the line should be. At the flamethrower level? Hand grenades? Automatic rifles? Bump stocks? Somewhere between BB guns and over-the-counter napalm we can agree. We’re not talking about ruining a sportsman’s weekend fun when we talk about gun control, and we’re not talking about confiscating weapons or wiping out the Constitution. We’re talking about preventing mass murders.

You are in favor of preventing mass murders, aren’t you? Or did you think those kids in Florida had it coming? The children at Sandy Hook? The students at Columbine? At Virginia Tech? The worshipers at the church? The people in the movie theater? The concertgoers in Las Vegas? The people at the post office?

Good guys with guns prevented none of those. The country with the loosest gun regulations – ours – also has the highest rate of gun deaths.

So let’s cut the BS. We have to keep the bad guys from killing our children. You can still shoot all the deer you want and my kids won’t have to wear bulletproof backpacks to school if we can agree that we need better rules.

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