JIM TINSLEY: Reader: Mass shootings don’t have to be our destiny

TO THE EDITOR:

After another weekend of violent mass shootings aimed specifically at the other in America, several articles have been published including the column, “More shootings, helpless, hopeless feeling,” which appeared in the Aug. 6 News Advocate. The conclusion of these articles is that mass homicides using military style automatic weapons are the new norm and that we must learn to cope with that new reality.

An article in the Times found that “there are currently around 15 million military-style rifles in civilian hands in the United States” and that because of their quality they will probably be efficiently operable a hundred years from now. We add one million automatic rifles to that cache each year.

In the face of these numbers and a litany of arguments that gun control can’t be effective, Scott Rasmussen and Alex Kingsbury, of the New York Times editorial staff, would have us do nothing.

Think back to 1980 and the founding of MADD. A single woman on a mission formed an organization that went on to change our culture and in the process, saved an estimated 350,000 lives over the last 40 years.

In those last 40 years there have been 22 mass shooting where more than 10 people were killed including the two recent shootings. In 19 of those shootings, the weapon of choice was one or more semi-automatic weapons.

In 1996, the Port Arthur massacre changed Australian political will. Later that same year, all six Australian states in unison banned semi-automatic weapons. They also instituted a 28 waiting period, background checks and required a justifiable reason for gun ownership, self protection is not consider justifiable. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since Port Arthur.

We are not Australia. They do not have our second amendment, our background of racial divide and bigotry, but they present an example of political will, a profile of courage that we should not ignore.

Some thoughts on the problem: A significant majority of Americans support a ban on automatic military style weapons and background checks. The gun industry has persuaded Congress that they are not liable for the safety of their product. They could make a safer product if liability were an issue as it is for other industries. That should change.

Research into gun safety has been effectively stifled by the NRA since 1996. Scientific research of the gun problem is imperative. A legislative shift in these areas would go a long way in developing a cultural change. No one wants to take away all of the guns just as no one wants to return to prohibition.

Weekly or monthly mass shootings do not have to be our destiny. As MADD demonstrated, cultures can be changed when people of strength and character are willing to set reasonable limits and stand up in the face of tough opposition for what will make us all safer. It will take time and will but that is better than the unconscionable horror that results if we doing nothing.

Jim Tinsley

Manistee

 

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