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Shooting incidents: a reason to consider gun restrictions

After a week of reactions to two major verdicts in court cases involving firearms, America was confronted with another fatal shooting incident.

This one took place at a high school in Michigan. Others in the past several years have occurred at schools, workplaces, shopping centers and private homes.

They add up to more than isolated incidents. There seems to be a pattern in the way shootings continue to happen, and in how they take place in a wide range of locations and circumstances.

Defenders of gun rights have often claimed that a gun doesn’t kill. They’ve emphasized that it’s the fault of the person who commits a violent act. After the regular occurrence of shootings, a trend that seems to be getting worse, it’s time to consider whether a firearm instead pushes people over the edge.

In the 20th century it became possible for idiots to become motorists. At the start of the 21st century every idiot gained the opportunity to become an Internet user.

Both trends have their drawbacks, but in each case there was realistically no alternative. If society was to step into a modern era, it was necessary to make the new technology available to the general public.

Guns are different. There’s no need for them to proliferate all throughout society, to the point it becomes easy for anyone with little or no experience to buy one. They aren’t necessary for daily life in the 21st century United States.

Instead they come with a need for responsible ownership. Guns are powerful. They can take away someone’s life with just a touch of the trigger.

There’s a need for a basic respect for life on the part of a weapons owner. Someone who has anger management issues, chemical dependency situations, mental illness or other factors that can stand in the way of such respect shouldn’t be a gun owner.

There’s no way to fully guarantee that people in those categories won’t get past ownership regulations. A few more license requirements, fees and background check procedures might, however, keep guns out of the hands of some of those who’d misuse them.

It’s a mindset that starts to take shape long before people reach their teenage years, before they get toward an age where gun ownership and gun handling becomes a possibility.

It begins with basic life situations in early childhood. Does a child treat other kids with respect?

Even when someone might steal a crayon or budge in line?

It takes an entire community to teach children to be respectful to others. It also takes the right kind of parenting at home.

I wonder about the parents of shooters, those of Kyle Rittenhouse and Travis McMichael as well as all the others. Evidently there was failure to teach a respect for life. There was failure to teach concern for fellow human beings.

Society can’t parent in those situations. The only option is to regulate how people come into possession of guns.

When I was growing up, we were required to take a comprehensive firearms safety class before qualifying for hunting licenses.

The instructors were experts in gun handling. They emphasized the need to respect a gun, to handle it with care, and to have complete concentration and control of emotions before deciding to shoot at something. The ethical side of gun ownership was as important as shooting skill.

That kind of oversight is needed in 2021. It’s not an infringement on rights to increase regulations, registration procedures, background checks, or even license fees.

Instead it’s a way to promote a healthy approach to the privilege of gun ownership. It’s likely to make a difference in the need to keep everyone safe.

— Jim Muchlinski is longtime reporter and contributor to the Marshall Independent

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