COLUMN: I support gun ownership and rational gun control


The mass shooting in Las Vegas renewed the call for gun control. The response was typical. 

The left demands more gun control. The right is screaming about the “slippery slope” that will take away every gun in America.

This isn’t the conversation we should be having. It shouldn’t be one extreme or another.

I grew up around guns. My family owns guns and several family members have a concealed pistol license. I love going to shooting ranges and being in the outdoors with guns. 

But this fondness and experience hasn’t prevented me and those around me from thinking increased gun control is a valid response to mass shootings. There are gun-owning Americans like me who recognize this isn’t a one-way street.

I should start by explaining why many of the people I grew up around and those fearing the “slippery slope” of gun control aren’t irrational. 

Democrats have allowed an image to be created that if they get elected, they would abolish the Second Amendment and Republicans have done a great job reinforcing that. 

Republicans aren’t without blame either.

They can't even whisper the words "gun control" in fear of backlash from their base. With help from the National Rifle Association, they’ve conditioned their base to defend guns in an incredibly passionate way. 

I remember my dad taking me to a gun store and not being able to walk three feet without hearing someone say, “Obama’s taking our guns.”

To most of you, that’s hyperbole. 

To gun owners, it’s a real fear they’ve all felt because of the national rhetoric surrounding gun control. 

We love the activities guns allow us to partake in. 

People here in Michigan treasure hunting and gun sports. 

They need to be reminded that gun control will not threaten our recreation and traditions — something I think very few politicians are able to do.

This doesn’t rest solely with politicians.

No one on the right and no one on the left can sit at the same table and acknowledge that both have valid points. 

They don’t even realize they have something in common. 

That commonality is that the majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, favor more gun control than is currently in place. Universal background checks, closing the “gun-show loophole” and prohibiting mentally ill persons from owning a gun are three issues we have in agreement.

This is where we can make progress. This is where we must stand together against the minority that think these are non-negotiable. 

People who do not own guns must acknowledge the importance of guns in American culture. 

Responsible gun owners should ask themselves if the accessibility to these firearms is worth the possible danger.

The way forward demands an adult conversation, understanding and listening to the fears and concerns.

The way politicians are debating gun control is like two children putting their fingers in their ears and trying to shout over each other.

The conversation America needs to have has to be honest, clear, and respectful to both sides. 

Whether that’s possible in today's political climate is uncertain, but nothing is going to change unless it happens.