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Your Opinion: Exploring solutions to gun violence

Your Opinion: Exploring solutions to gun violence

January 16th, 2013 by Robert Haslag, Centertown in News

Dear Editor:

Since Sandy Hook, I have watched the national debate develop much as after every other mass shooting: a national outcry of horror, calls for action and a slowly disintegrating willingness to go deeper than superficial, quick fixes deteriorating to nothing at all. Of course, the particular horror of this event required some response from the NRA and on Dec. 21 they unsurprisingly suggested many more guns in our schools.

This issue is more complicated than the NRA would suggest and lashing out at video games and failures in our mental health system identifies targets easily and repeatedly identified. The three elements that must be addressed in any discussion must be recognizing the magnitude of the problem, the foundational arguments of the opposition and posing a practical series of options that still preserves our Second Amendment rights without denying our society any ability to set parameters for those rights.

Appreciative of the willingness of the News Tribune to offer me this platform, I will address each element in turn.

On Dec. 20, I listed a thoroughly incomplete number of events that have transpired trying to place faces on this particular American "institution" the mass shooting event. The fact that 20 victims at Newtown were ages 5-7 has focused our attention on children.

This presentation is not meant to diminish the tragedy inherent in children this age being victims. However, our current focus fails to recognize that every life lost to gun violence is a tragedy worthy of serious attention.

Every year on average there are 12,000 gun homicides, more than 500 fatal gun accidents, 18,000 gun suicides and 60,000 gun injuries. As evidenced by any study of these events, many of these shootings involve deaths of family members, fellow employees, associates or innocent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They are a black teen sitting in the back seat of a friend's car shot by an angry man who resented the sound level of their music. They are two firefighters responding to a trap set by a man determined to release his inner demons.

The fundamental flaw in the NRA response is a failure to recognize that all the lives lost on work sites, at theaters and malls and just proceeding with their lives are worthy of our protection.

All these lives are valuable and demand our consideration.