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Local view: Reasonable laws can save lives while respecting firearms rights

I read with interest the article in the Sept. 14 News Tribune about the 8th Congressional District election ("Race for 8th is defined by diverse demographics"). It was a balanced article on the thoughts and concerns of the voters in the 8th District.

I read with interest the article in the Sept. 14 News Tribune about the 8th Congressional District election (“Race for 8th is defined by diverse demographics”). It was a balanced article on the thoughts and concerns of the voters in the 8th District. Of course, one of the issues covered was gun control.
A comment that stood out for me was one from a gun owner who blamed the government for the ammunition shortage on the market. The theory is that the government has manipulated ammunition with massive buy-ups in the name of the military to control guns. This is a conspiracy theory promoted by some to ramp up fear and paranoia over guns. It is not true. The truth is that after President Barack Obama was elected, some gun owners started stockpiling ammunition out of fear their gun rights would be affected by the new president. It is much more complicated than even that, as a July 1 article at vox.com showed (“The ammunition shortage is a real thing; here’s why it happened”).
Gun rights are always a controversial issue at election time or any time. The issue needn’t be. People of good intentions can come together to make communities safer from the gun violence that affects many families.
Easy access to guns by those who shouldn’t be able to access them is a problem in our country. In Minnesota, 70 percent of gun deaths are from suicide. We can change that number if we figure out better ways to keep guns away from people who are suicidal.
Also, domestic shootings take the lives of too many women. Our Legislature came together last year in a bipartisan way to pass a law to keep guns away from domestic abusers. Gun owners, NRA members, Republicans, Democrats, gun violence prevention groups and others agreed this would save lives without affecting the gun rights of law-
abiding gun owners. This is what happens when people of good faith and reasonable intentions come together to deal with public health and safety.
Reasonable hunters and gun owners understand their rights come with responsibilities, and they support measures to keep guns away from prohibited purchasers. Reasonable gun owners also understand that storing their guns safely away from children, teens, vulnerable adults or from being stolen is their responsibility. In fact, polling of gun owners shows consistent majority support for reasonable measures such as requiring background checks on all gun sales.
There are many important issues before us this election season. Gun rights may be that issue for some; but at the least, having the facts is important when making decisions at the ballot box. Candidates shy away from the gun issue because of the perceived notion it will defeat them. Historically, that is not true, either. Candidates spend a lot of time trying to identify with voters by toting guns around in TV ads and claiming they support the 2nd Amendment. In actuality, a minority of us are gun owners. Only about 34 percent of households have guns in them. So to whom are the candidates pandering when they make these claims? The majority of us want sensible gun safety reform.
One can support reasonable measures to prevent the senseless loss of life while still supporting the rights of gun owners and hunters. They are not mutually exclusive. I would suggest that when reading or hearing about guns and gun violence during the election, voters look for the truth of the matter. When people are losing their lives in large numbers from gun deaths and injuries, we owe it to our citizens to look for ways to reduce the numbers and save lives. That is what we do for other causes of deaths and injuries. It just makes good common sense. I urge voters to find the common ground needed to deal with gun safety reform. We all want gun safety. It will keep people safer in their communities and protect the rights of all.

Joan A. Peterson of Duluth is co-president of the Northland Brady Campaign/Protect Minnesota Chapter.

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