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Our Opinion: Influential twist in gun-control debate

Our Opinion: Influential twist in gun-control debate

December 20th, 2012 in News

Any realistic discussion about gun laws must be a matter of degree, not all or nothing.

Gun control, an issue that prompts impassioned debate, has resurfaced in the aftermath of a massacre that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school.

Some firearms enthusiasts fear any regulations will lead to a slippery slope that will end in the confiscation of guns from American households.

We find those fears unfounded.

Even if we ignore the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, rounding up the estimated 300 million firearms in about half of all U.S. homes would be an unrealistic undertaking.

Previous examples of attempted eradication -Prohibition, the War on Drugs - have shown human behavior cannot be controlled entirely by efforts to eliminate an item, whether it is alcohol, illegal drugs or firearms.

A reasonable question is: Who needs what kind of weapon?

Clearly, military personnel are trained to operate weapons that are more sophisticated than those required by, or legally available to, civilians.

Other trained professionals - law enforcement officials, security personnel including Secret Service - are armed in accordance with their duties.

Beyond that, civilians largely acquire guns for sport - hunting, target shooting - and/or self-defense.

Gun control - who may acquire which weapons under what circumstances - is an ongoing debate in society and a policy matter for governments.

A recent - and potentially game-changing - development involves action by investors.

A major private equity firm has announced it will sell the company that manufacturers semiautomatic rifles, including the Bushmaster model used in the school shooting.

"It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate," read a statement from the investment company. "That is the job of our federal and state legislators."

Despite the disclaimer, money often speaks more loudly than policy-makers.