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Local View: End the unfettered access to weapons

From the column: "All that we are being offered by those beholden to the NRA and gun manufacturers is a chance to 'harden' schools by arming teachers and staff."

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John Darkow / Cagle Cartoons
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Members of the League of Women Voters of Duluth are outraged over the continued lack of action on gun violence in our country. There have been more than 200 mass shootings in our country since Jan. 1. How many more communities need to be scarred by the horror of mass killings before our elective representatives take action to protect us from threats to our personal and community health and safety?

In the U.S., 75% of perpetrators of mass violence obtained their weapons legally. Whether these shooters have mental health problems or not makes no difference to those killed and the families left behind. It is unacceptable to continue to do the same thing over and over (such as hoping and praying) while acquiescing to the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers who push unrestricted access to guns.

The children of Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as well as grocery store customers in Buffalo, New York, were innocent victims of mass killers who had unfettered access to weapons.

Since 1990, the League of Women Voters of Duluth, a nonpartisan organization, has opposed the manufacture, sale, and importation of assault weapons or their parts. The League of Women Voters Minnesota is presently revising its position paper on guns, with strong demands for background checks and the licensures of buyers, sellers, and users.

These positions are not partisan or political; they are principled and practical. Yet the NRA has cast these issues as political and has used its clout with Congress to block gun reforms.

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People who call for curbs on the access and sales of weapons of war to civilians have been cast as out of touch with American ideals. We have been told that “guns don’t kill” and that our forefathers wanted us to be able to carry weapons. The Founders used muskets and sabers and, although very wise in crafting a union of colonies, were not prescient enough to predict the weaponry of the 21st century. Eighteenth century concerns related to the right to bear arms centered on being able to protect the country, not kill children and teachers.

The Canadian Parliament is finishing a bill that would ban the sales of assault weapons and freeze the sales of handguns. There was a buyback program being debated in Canada this past week as this commentary was being written.

In the U.S., meanwhile, all that we are being offered by those beholden to the NRA and gun manufacturers is a chance to “harden” schools by arming teachers and staff.

We need to look at Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and countless other countries that have taken action to prevent the violence we Americans have come to expect. It is time for the U.S. to act and to support sensible gun laws that will prevent these recurring tragedies.

Mary Faulkner, Jane Hovland, Anita Gille, Gwen Thorson, and Nancy Aldridge are members of the League of Women Voters of Duluth’s executive committee. They wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.

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