DYCHE | Readers recoil at gun column - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | Readers recoil at gun column

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By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

"Are you an idiot?" began one comment to my recent column calling for action to address gun violence and rampage shootings. "You are an ignorant, uninformed fool," said another.

Folks sure love their guns. Some seem to love them more than they do their fellow human beings.

Several readers disputed the column's premise that gun violence and multi-victim shootings are a problem. They evidently think that American's many gun murders and mass shootings are no big deal.

One of their favorite "arguments" is that there are more deaths from other means, like automobiles or knives, but nobody advocates making those things illegal. But those deaths are not multi-victim massacres from the intentional use of the thing as a weapon, few advocate making guns illegal either, and we do extensively regulate dangerous things like automobiles and driving.

Others cite Cain and Abel and invoke original sin to contend that evil is the real problem, and it will always be with us. OK, but it does not follow that we should do nothing to fight against the forces of darkness and sickness of the soul manifested in gun violence and mass shootings.

By all means let's do better in loving and caring for each other. Our opinion leaders should definitely champion better parenting, basic morality, more personal responsibility, and spiritual renewal when addressing the gun violence epidemic. Yet that is not enough.

Some admit that wholesale gun slaughter is a problem, but apparently do not think anything can or should be done about it. They evidently consider periodic mass killings by deranged shooters as an acceptable price of life in a free country and would rather endure them than involve a government they distrust in dealing with this societal disease.

Few if any of these ├╝ber-libertarians have had a child randomly slain by a lunatic gunman wielding a semi-automatic weapon, of course. The ever increasing number of people who have lost a loved one to such insanity, and those of us who realize that our beloveds could be next, are not unreasonable in wanting to curtail the carnage, if not stop it altogether.

The sanguinary status quo is simply not acceptable. What is wrong in seeking solutions that will strike a balance between public safety and the constitutional and rights of law-abiding gun owners in a way that mitigates the mayhem?

A large contingent considers more guns the answer. There is something to this.

Mass killers do seem to seek out sites where they are unlikely to encounter armed resistance. And people conscientious enough to get a concealed carry permit are more often part of the solution than the problem.

Self-defense by an armed citizenry makes sense, but stopping mass gun killers from acting in the first place is still better than merely hoping someone mows them down after they open fire. Moreover, many do not want to run the undeniable risks of arming themselves at all times and relying on the fallible judgment and skill of others who do.

Critics correctly point out that gun crimes continue in places like California and Chicago that already have strict gun laws on the books. But things might be even worse without those laws, and the relative ineffectiveness of some laws does not necessarily mean that all laws will be likewise ineffective.

There is also the practical problem of having so many guns in circulation already. Attempts to deal with all of them are going to be difficult, if not impossible. This may only mean, however, that we must start now and not let the perfect be an enemy of the good.

Keeping guns away from those who should not have them while respecting the rights of responsible gun-owners is an obviously tricky proposition. The growing number of graves of gun violence victims, many of them mere children, makes it imperative that we nonetheless try.

Surely there is some common ground for compromise. Both the Obama administration and the National Rifle Association support more and better mental health laws and services, especially for young men, so why not begin there?

The bipartisan compromise sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have required background checks on all commercial gun sales is another good idea. Unfortunately, a successful filibuster blocked it.

Maybe I am an idiot. I have been called worse and with good reason. But it is neither ignorant nor foolish to think we should do more or to be open to new ideas for preventing more mass shootings.

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.
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