Trigger happy?

dumblawsApril 3, 2013 — The police department in the small town of Nelson, Georgia can rest easier now that help is on the way.

The city council unanimously passed a law on Monday for its 1,300 citizens that requires the head of each household to own a gun as a way to deter crime.

Councilman Duane Cronic, who introduced the measure last month, explained that the ordinance exempts convicted felons, residents with physical and mental disabilities and those who do not believe in owning firearms. He also stated that there is no penalty for violating the law, as it serves as “an expression of support for gun rights and sends a message to would-be criminals.”

When I read this story on April 1, I thought it was an odd April Fool’s joke. Turns out it is just odd.

This law, or invisible expression, passes as our country is in the midst of a heated debate over gun control. Instead of a statement to criminals – it’s hardly a deterrent if it is not penalized – it seems like a slap in the face to those who support any form of gun control. Passing this bill is as meaningless as the celebrity anti-gun endorsements coming from those who employ armed bodyguards, and who have made millions playing characters that engage in gun violence.

Last month, Yoko Ono tweeted a photo of John Lennon’s bloody glasses with the message that since John’s murder 30 some years ago, over one million more people have died from gun violence. I’m not sure why Yoko has a photo of the bloody glasses on the windowsill over looking Manhattan, but it was a powerful message with tragic statistics.

Still, those statistics seem unbalanced, since I’m willing to bet a huge majority of those deaths came from illegally owned guns. Yes, those deaths are still tragic, but that number sways us to believe if we had a law in this country that banned guns, this tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. That is hardly the case since you can buy a gun on the streets illegally if you want to.

Where is the push to get firearms out of the hands of illegal owners? Far more difficult to accomplish, but also where the biggest part of the problem lies. More people would be willing to give up their legal guns if they felt safer, and they’d feel safer if there were far fewer illegal guns on the streets.

Any gun violence, whether criminal or accidental, or from a legal or illegal firearm is tragic. Every effort must be made to get illegal guns out of the hands of those who own them; and those who want to own them should do so legally by going through the proper process. We need laws and actions that support that cause.

I fully support the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013”, which stops the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons to citizens. These weapons are designed to kill a lot of people quickly; no one needs them to hunt, or protect themselves or their home. I also support the right to own a gun legally.

Compromise is what is needed to get something meaningful accomplished. Statement laws like the one recently passed in Nelson, and most celebrity endorsements, only feed what pulls us further apart.

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