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Editor's column: Another dead child...more reason for tougher gun laws

February 16, 2013
By Per Peterson , Marshall Independent

I write this will all due respect to law-abiding gun owners, many of whom I consider close friends: If you are against tighter gun control laws in this state, in this country, you just don't get it.

I feel better now. Might've lost a few friends, but this unsatisfiable appetite our society has for guns is leading us down a nasty path littered with dead kids, shaken communities and unanswerable questions.

Gun gurus don't want to talk about stronger gun control; they want to point the barrel at the mental health issue. To an extent, they're right, but that's only part of fixing this grotesque problem this country has. Yes, we need to keep guns out of the hands of those dealing with a mental illness, but that alone won't cut it.

Word has it that Nhan L. Tran, the man charged with killing a 9-year-old Oakdale boy in a random shooting spree Monday, has no mental health issues. He also apparently had no motive. But he did have a 9 mm handgun and several live rounds of ammo.

Now we're left with another grieving family, saddened and shocked friends, and communities on edge, wondering why they can't go to the grocery store without worrying about being shot. We're left with another candlelight vigil and more headlines about a random shooting.

We'll learn more about Tran in the days ahead. Maybe it will come to light that he does, indeed, have a mental illness, but that will hardly console anyone. And it won't provide any answers as to why this man decided to whip out his pistol and start shooting at cars on a cold Monday night.

This story, like the others, makes me wonder how difficult it was for Tran to get his hands on a gun. With no criminal record, I would bet he had no problem at all, whether he bought it at a gun store, a garage sale or from some anonymous seller on the Internet.

I'm not anti-gun; I believe there is a place for them in our society. I believe in the Second Amendment. I think people should be able to own guns to protect themselves, their family and their home. I think hunters should be able to purchase guns to enjoy waterfowl or deer hunting. But I also believe we are dangerously close to losing our perspective on the gun issue and that gun lovers, while they will tell you how bad they feel for those who have lost loved ones to gun violence, are so hung up on the Second Amendment and so against the establishment, will start turning a blind eye to these tragedies. They scoff at the "Wild West" scenario, but really, how far away are we from it?

I think the question gun owners need to ask themselves is, if your son or daughter were killed by someone with a gun in one of these random shootings, would your stance on gun control change? I'm sure you would continue to own your gun and hunt with it, but if this happened to you, wouldn't you want something more done about gun control, whether it's a change in the permitting process or much stronger background checks?

I bet you would. I know you would.

This column isn't going to go over well with a lot of people, I get that, but you know what doesn't go over well with me? Innocent kids getting shot while riding in a car.

This is an issue that needs some kind of stronger controlling agent. If you can't admit that, I don't know what else to say.



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