• Take the step
    January 01,2013

    Take the step

    The NRA’s theme song has one note: “more guns.” It’s an affront to all Americans and especially grieving parents to assert that the fix for Columbine and Newtown is to arm teachers or to put armed volunteers in our schools.

    The President of the United States is one of the best-protected people in the world, surrounded by armed, highlytrained, dedicated Secret Service personnel. In public hundreds or even thousands of police officers are added to the protective wall. Yet within my lifetime, John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Ronald Reagan was severely wounded and Gerald Ford was shot at twice. In the same time frame two presidential candidates, Bobby Kennedy and George Wallace were shot, Kennedy fatally, and Wallace permanently disabled by his wounds. Putting more guns around them did not save them.

    Gun ownership is not the problem. Vermont has liberal gun laws, a high percentage of gun ownership, and a low rate of gun violence. We need to look deeper than simply owning a gun to find a remedy for the violence.

    The victims in Newtown were shot multiple times, one with 11 wounds. That was possible only because the shooter had a semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity clips. Part of the answer: Restrict assault rifles and those bigger clips. That would not affect our hunters one whit: if you need to shoot a deer 11 times to bring it down, you should not be hunting.

    Why is it that we are much tougher on owning and operating an automobile than we are with guns? To own and operate a car, you need proof of purchase, a title, and a license if you want to drive it. For a firearm: no proof of purchase, no title, and no license required to shoot it, unless it’s for hunting.

    How is it that people so deranged as to gun down children can lay their hands on multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition?

    There is no way in the world to prevent every single occurrence, but if we do a better job of reducing the mass-killing potential of the weapons, tracking the ownership and licensure of firearms, better screening of gun owners and closer attention to and better treatment for the potentially violent mentally disturbed, then we can make a difference and reduce the loss of innocent lives. As a civilized nation, we owe ourselves no less.

    And when our representatives in Washington finally realize that the NRA is irrelevant, we can get it done.

    Tommy Walz


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