Let's talk about guns, again

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A few weeks ago, I wrote about guns. That column generated a few comments from readers, most of whom disagreed with my point and some of whom didn't seem to completely understand it.

I'll make an attempt to clarify it here.

I believe that if we are to reverse or even significantly slow the tide of gun violence in America, we are going to have to take a long, meaningful, honest look at our culture and our laws. The other alternative is to cling to the status quo, and simply accept the fact that we are going to continue to experience the sort of random violence that we now see all too often.

What I've just said could be interpreted as being anti-gun. That would be a misinterpretation.

I do believe that our gun laws should be much more stringent. I believe anyone with any sort of criminal conviction involving an act of violence of any kind should not be allowed to legally own a gun. I believe anyone who has ever been treated for mental illness should have to undergo an evaluation by a mental health professional before being allowed to legally own a gun. I believe anyone convicted of committing a crime with a gun should be imprisoned for a minimum of 10 years. I believe anyone convicted of illegally possessing a gun should be imprisoned for a minimum of five years, with stiffer penalties for previously convicted felons.

I believe that anyone who purchases a gun should be subject to a background check -- including sales made at gun shows or between individuals.

I also believe that individuals who have no documented history of mental illness, who meet background check requirements and who don't commit gun-related crimes should be allowed to own as many guns as they like.

I also believe that our schools should have an armed security presence, preferably consisting of trained police officers. But I believe those should be the only guns allowed on school property. And I believe that anyone convicted of bringing a gun onto school property should be prosecuted and sent to prison.

Gun supporters like to say that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. They also like to say that if we implement gun control in our country, only the criminals will have guns.

I believe the first statement. Once the bad guy has a gun in his hands, good guys must be able to fight fire with fire.

But I don't entirely believe the second statement. Yes, there will be some criminals who find a way to get their hands on a gun no matter what. But there are certainly things we can do to make that much more difficult and to make the penalties much more severe.

Or, we can stick with the status quo.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.