It is Sunday afternoon as I write this. I was thinking about Tuesday’s election and this column. Because the column goes online Wednesday, I really cannot write about the election.
At 11 this morning, however, I received an Associated Press notification: There was a shooting at a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee. Later, we'd learn that seven people had died, including the shooter.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Ben Boparai, a member of the temple, as saying, "It's pretty much a hate crime. It's not an insider." Boparai believes the shooter is not of Indian descent or a member of the Milwaukee temple.
As my regular readers know, I am not against gun ownership. My partner, Kathy, used to hunt and her ex-husband was a gunsmith. I have owned numerous handguns over the years. I am also an advocate of training and responsible ownership.
J. Karl Miller’s July 25 column concerning gun ownership and past mass shootings offered little insight into the reasoning for an "absolute right" of gun ownership. There are no "absolute rights" provided by the Constitution and its Amendments.
Karl is right when he stated, "While 20/20 hindsight is used in alleging that ‘someone should have seen it coming,’ that is pure second-guessing. … I am afraid these massacres will be repeated." But this sounds like a defeatist attitude, not one of reason and humanism.
Karl is also correct when he stated "that recreational and competition shooting is not only a lawful activity but also a very popular one." There is no reason to keep handguns, long guns and shotguns away from those who hunt and compete — or use them for home protection.
However, all weapons have a single purpose: to kill. This is one reason you will not see a knife on a traditional Japanese or Chinese dinner table.
Today, the National Rifle Association is doing more to hinder the process of an open dialogue through intimidation and fear-mongering. Simply lobbying against a gun control political advocate closes all doors to a reasonable and open conversation concerning responsible gun ownership.
There are questions that Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Ariz., Aurora, Colo., and now Milwaukee have brought to the forefront that are not being addressed.
Should the state require the buyer to have training and to prove to the dealer that one’s training is current before being allowed to purchase a weapon?
Should the state require that all weapons be kept in a locked container or have gun locks when not being used?
Should the federal government restrict or eliminate the interstate sales of ammunition and extended capacity clip sales via the Internet?
This list goes on ad infinitum.
Karl’s and others’ argument is that most shooting massacres were "planned and carried out by people who were mentally disturbed." This is simply not true. The individuals who assisted the Columbine shooters and the shooters themselves were never considered "mentally ill." They were angry, yes, but in full mental capacity.
We are not sure of the mental state of the Tucson shooter because he pleaded guilty to all charges and did not take a mental deficiency defense.
We do not know about the Aurora or the Milwaukee shooters.
If conversations concerning responsible gun ownership are not made on a state and national level, I am afraid that I will have to agree with Karl; we will see more mass shootings in the United States.
If the NRA continues to block any reasonable effort to have open training, seminars and instruction of proper firearms ownership, the illegal guns used in shootings across this country will continue to be supplied by the burglars to steal the weapons from legitimate gun owners.
If our president and presumptive presidential candidates do not start the conversation with a level of openness and ethical listening skills, then there will be no conversation at all.
I urge those who won their party nominations for state and federal offices not to avoid the conversation. I urge them to forget about the money from lobbying groups and think about their constituents as real people. I urge you to demand an open conversation.
Owning more guns will not slow down gun crime, nor will eliminating all gun ownership. But there is an answer somewhere. We have to be willing to talk first.