Dear Editor,

With the recent MSU, Louisville andNashville tragedies, there have been nearly 150 mass shootings so far this year in the U.S. Undeniably, guns are a huge problem. We are simply flooded with guns – more guns than any other nation – easily exceeding the equivalent of more than one for every man, woman and child. Simply too many and too readily available for people with pure evil intent. The cumulative result? We have the highest guns-homicide rate of any country in the world. Bar none.

The gun lobby defends the status quo while trying to cleverly convince us that mental health issues (to which they’ve contributed) is the crux of the problem, yet they can’t explain why other civilized countries don’t have a similar guns problem. Way fewer guns per capita and tighter gun restrictions is the plausible answer. We’re told that law enforcement simply needs to do a better job enforcing existing gun laws. Try telling that to the families of the six Nashville deceased, or to the families of the thirteen just killed or injured in Louisville. Both with legally purchased assault weapons.

Despite what gun lovers want us to believe, the laws of the land have affirmed that government does have explicit authority to regulate guns. Easily accessed weapons of war have no place in American homes or in the hands of non-military personnel. The Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was instituted in 1994 during the Clinton administration and was ruled constitutional. Supported by former presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, it placed severe restrictions on magazine capacities and various semi-automatics, including AR15s and AK47s. Despite public opposition, Congress recklessly allowed the ban to expire in 2004, bowing to pressure from the gun lobby. Since, mass shootings have not surprisingly spiraled out of sight, and as mainstream America overwhelmingly cries for stronger gun control, our GOP defiantly digs in its heels ignores the call – as the killings continue, unabated.

Let’s be clear. Evil mass shooters have no preference or concern for their victims’ political orientation or position on gun control. Gun fanatic or not, all of us are potentially in harm’s way each and every day. Allowing our children (especially) to continue to be used as collateral to appease our obsessive love of guns is further reflective of a very troubled society.

No, my friends, ‘more guns’ is clearly not the answer. Neither is constructing ironclad fortresses or stationing armed guards at every public venue or school. The real solution? I recently heard someone say that – at some point – that we have to learn to love our kids and grandkids more than we love our guns. If and when that ever happens, we’ll see a very dramatic improvement in the kind of society in which we live. Furthermore, if our law enforcement community throughout this country ever grows tired of being a daily potential target of crazed people sporting military-style assault weapons, and unites in protest, that will tip the scales once for all.

In the meantime, we need to demand that the AWB be reinstated. We need to support national organizations striving to effect sensible gun safety laws that make it a lot, lot harder for weapons of war to end up in the hands of evil people. With nearly 90 percent of Americans supporting tougher gun restrictions, Michigan Legislature recently did what was right and passed three common sense gun safety bills – despite firm GOP opposition.

Enough is enough. Each and every one of us needs to peel back our often silly political-party allegiance and send a firm message to our national, state and local representatives that they either commit to helping make our families safer, or we send the them out the door – including the sheriff. It’s really as simple as that. Even if we all have to become “one-issue” voters to do it.

— Lou Kitchenmaster
Stanton, MI