I have written a great deal on these pages about the need for gun reform in the United States, and I have laid out my best case for why I think new measures are needed to make our communities safer.

Those writings have drawn a slew of letters to the editor from readers who agree with many of my proposals, as well as some who insist that gun reform is simply unnecessary, unrealistic, or both.

They say all politics are local, and based on your letters to the editor, it seems that the debate over gun reform is just as pertinent and passionate in Park County as it is on a national scale.

So in an honest effort to better clarify and understand the parameters of this divisive, controversial and complex topic, I will first lay out 10 popular arguments commonly employed by those who oppose gun reform.

  Secondly, I will counter each point from the opposite perspective, thus placing the two narratives side by side in a way that summarizes or streamlines the essence of the debate as accurately as possible from all angles.

All too often, we hear bits and pieces of arguments for and against gun reform measures, but seldom do we get a condensed yet thorough sampling of the reasoning behind those arguments from both sides.

I’m hoping readers will agree that the following represents a reasonably accurate portrayal of the debate in its most modern form, and that this exercise will illustrate why both proponents and opponents of gun reform remain so hopelessly divided.

First, let’s hear what opponents of gun reform have to say.

Opponents: Why gun reform measures will never work

1. Here they go again. Every time there’s a mass shooting, the liberals start talking about gun reform.

2. What they don’t understand is that the genie is already out of the bottle, and that there’s no way we are going to get rid of all the guns in this country, no matter what laws we write.

3. They also fail to realize that guns are not killing people; people are killing people. If they didn’t kill with guns, then they would simply find some other way. Guns are not the problem. Crazy people are the problem, and the rest of us need to have guns to protect ourselves from them.

4. After all, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That’s just common sense. The more guns good Americans are able to possess, the better, because that’s the only defense we have against bad guys with guns. If we really wanted to stop school shootings, we would train teachers to use guns.

5. Not to mention, the Second Amendment already settled all of this a long time ago. As a conservative, I respect the constitution and think our forefathers had it right to begin with.

6. It says plain and clear that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

7. That can only be interpreted one way. I have my guns, and nobody can take them. Especially the government. Every time they start rumbling about gun reform, my first reaction is to add to my arsenal. Left wingers think they can change the constitution to suit them, but that’s just not how it works. And if they outlaw or limit the sale of assault rifles, then the slippery slope will most certainly lead to the loss of all our guns.

8. I would suggest that the song by Aaron Lewis entitled “Country Boy” says it as well as it can be said. At the end of the song, the following narrative is offered by Charlie Daniels: “I love my country, I love my guns, I love my family, I love the way it is now, and anybody that tries to change that has to come through me.”

9. Most proponents of gun reform don’t know enough about guns to even have a debate. They misuse the term “military grade” to describe weapons that are not really military grade at all.

10. They think that just because a weapon is a semi-automatic and has a clip carrying 12 or more rounds, then it is “military grade.” Some such weapons have the capacity to fire rounds more rapidly than others, but some are no more powerful than the average deer-hunting rifle.

Proponents: Why we must have gun reform

1. Proponents are talking about gun reform because there have been 213 mass shootings of four or more people in the U.S. thus far in 2022. Shockingly, there have been 17 such incidents in the U.S. since the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, just over one week ago.

2. To say ”nothing can be done” about mass shootings in the U.S. is a total cop-out. That line of logic is peddled by the National Rifle Association and others so they can sell more guns and ammunition. Nothing can be done to eliminate drunk driving, either, so should we stop enforcing DUI laws? The victims of mass shootings deserve better. So do future victims.

3. People do kill people. That’s a fact. And they do it most efficiently with automated weapons best suited for warfare. Which sounds more practical: banning assault rifles, or banning people? If shotguns, slingshots, knives or pipe bombs worked better, wouldn’t mass shooters use those weapons instead? AR-type weapons are the favorite for one reason only: they kill more people in less time.

4. Where are all the good guys with guns that are supposed to protect us from bad guys with guns? We could have used them on about 217 occasions over the last six months. If we didn’t sell AR’s to bad people, would we need good people with guns? Were mass shooters bad people when they bought the guns? Obviously not, or we wouldn’t have sold AR’s to them, right? It’s getting hard to tell who the bad guys and good guys really are, but identifying an AR-15 is pretty easy. Maybe we should limit the production and sales of such weapons to everyone. Oh yeah, the NRA says that’s not prudent. We’re lucky the NRA is looking out for our safety, or things could really get dangerous out there.

The NRA also advocates that our teachers be trained to use guns, and in addition to teaching and babysitting our kids all day, they could also protect them with their guns, and their own lives. That sounds fair.

Scores of teachers would likely be killed, and no, that’s not the job they signed up for. But gun sales would soar, and even though loss of life is terrible, this is really big money we’re talking about here.

5. Our founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen 400-plus mass shootings per year, or the horrific weapons used in those shootings, and they thought it wise to maintain a well-armed militia for reasons that no longer exist.

6. The primary threat is no longer Redcoats from Great Britian, coming to establish rule over the 13 original colonies. Instead, it’s the 18-year-old who just bought a few AR’s at the local pawn shop or gun store.

7. Does our constitution forbid us from protecting ourselves from them? The constitution is a living, breathing document that changes continually. Laws of all kinds change continually. Abortion laws are on the brink of big changes, for example. Are conservatives and strict constitutionalists angered by that? Other than solid logic, what gives here?

Left-wingers don’t have all the answers, either. But they don’t seem concerned about shotguns, hunting rifles or handguns. They don’t have the power or the will to take anyone’s guns, and most probably own those types of guns themselves. Right-wingers know this, but the NRA and Republican Party leaders cling to the slippery slope theory to keep the special interest money, and the guns, rolling in.

8. Loving your country, your guns, and your family is all fine. The government should not be allowed to tread on you, as the popular conservative bumper stickers and flags suggest. Is it OK to tread on the kids at Sandy Hook and Uvalde, though? Or the people shopping in a King Soopers in Boulder?

These victims are our friends, and our families. Your gun rights are treading on us; killing us, in fact. And we are much more pissed off about the loss of human life than you will ever be about the loss of your AR-15.

I recently received a letter to the editor complaining that the school resource officers within the Platte Canyon School District are not worth the money they are paid. So, how much is the life of a 10-year-old really worth?

Does the value of a 10-year-old outweigh the value of AR-15 ownership? All too many Americans would have to give that hypothetical some serious thought, and that’s pretty disconcerning.

9. You can minimize the devastating impact of AR’s, and throw technical jargon around all you like, but you probably wouldn’t if you had to obtain DNA samples to recognize your son or daughter after a school shooting. I doubt gun types and caliber sizes are of much significance to the grieving parent of a dead 10-year-old.

10. At any rate, to minimize the power of an AR-15 after it has mangled the bodies of 18 elementary school students is really bad form and misses the point entirely. It sounds insensitive and ignorant at best. At worst, it sounds like you value an AR over the lives of children who are tragically and needlessly gone forever.

I hope this exercise gives all of us pause, to consider what is just, and to reflect upon what really matters. Some people favor lives over guns, and others favor guns over lives. How about you? If you had to tread on one or the other, which would you choose?

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