Both sides of gun control argument must meet in the middle to stop mass shootings

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“Guns don’t kill people. People do.”

“Guns don’t kill people. People who like guns kill people.”

“Drunk driving – blame the person. Stabbing – blame the person. Arson – blame the person. Shooting – blame the gun.”

“If we outlaw guns, only criminals will have guns.”

“The problem isn’t guns. It’s hearts without God and homes without discipline.”

“We will never create enough laws to control evil. Evil does not obey laws.”

“Protect kids, not guns.”

“After 9-11 we didn’t ban planes. We secured the cockpits. Secure the schools.”

“The problem is not guns. It’s hearts without God, homes without discipline, schools without prayer and courtrooms without justice.”

“I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.”

“The semi-automatic has been around for about 100 years – way before mass shootings were in vogue.”

“Arms are for hugging, Protect kids, not guns.”

By now, you’ve heard all of these talking points and responses to the national epidemic of mass shootings.

Whether you’re on the side of throwing all guns into a trash compactor, or someone who won’t release the grip of your AR-15 until they pull it from your dead fingers or somebody in the middle, unfortunately, every one of these responses rings true.

They tend to dig all sides to dig a little deeper into their conviction. They stand by words prepared for what now seems to be 100 tragedies ago. While both sides offer a compelling argument, neither offers a solution.

That’s the problem with facing a serious challenge with little more than a marketing campaign. Stopping mass shootings will take a lot more than clever billboards and snapping social media posts. It will take work. It will take change. It will take us.

It’s time for zealots on both sides of the problem to leave their agendas behind before they sit at the table of civil conservation because there isn’t a single solution. A complex threat needs everyone to face serious questions and work toward a reasonable outcome.

We owe our children that much.

The only way we can find common ground is to understand our response has to be multi-pronged. Access to guns and ammunition, mental health, background checks, a deterioration of the home and social values and virtual community outlets like Facebook and Twitter are areas that all need to be addressed.

Mass shootings aren’t the result of a single issue. They’re the result in the erosion of the principles that used to keep us safe.

The problem with shootings is we only seem to pay attention when it happens at a school. If you watch local media, you know shootings are practically a daily occurrence in the Westside of Jacksonville. There were 21 who lost their lives to a madman last week at the Texas elementary school. There were 49 murders in Chicago last April.

Whether it’s in a classroom or on the city streets, the challenges are the same: get the guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.

There is no sense to argue things that won’t change. Americans will never be forced to give up their guns. And they shouldn’t.

At the same time, there’s no reason to own an AK-47 or AR-15. Those weapons were made for one thing – mass destruction.

Handguns, in the right hands, are a different thing. Those are reasonable forms of protection. The same goes for shotguns. I’m not giving up mine.

And some other things should be considered, like:

• Any gun sold should include a three-day cooling-off period for a background check.

• There should be a national database established for anyone whose been evaluated or suspected of harboring violent behavior. We already do it with sex offenders.

• There also should be a database that tracks the amount of ammunition purchased by a single gun owner. When you see huge numbers, it should set off alarms. The lowlife in Texas bought more than 1,600 rounds in one day. Ding. Ding. Ding.

• We need to overhaul how we deal with people who display signs of being mentally unstable, and there needs to be an easier way to report suspicions. Then, law enforcement must check it out.

• Social media platforms need to be more responsible with what’s allowed on their public forums and quickly inform law enforcement of troubling posts. It’s amazing how fast I can have something deleted if I tell a crude joke. And yet, some spend days online spewing their hate and their intentions of causing considerable harm.

• As a community, we must work tirelessly to rebuild the family unit. Too many of our children no longer understand the concepts of right and wrong. They no longer fear or respect consequences. Too many parents, especially in single-parent homes, try harder to be a friend instead of a parent. You can be both. But remember, the most important role you will ever have is being a parent. Sometimes the word “no” means I love you more than “yes.”

• We have to win back the hearts, minds and respect of our children. Too many are wandering the streets and back allies of the internet to fill the voids in their lives.

• Being a parent also means being a part of your children’s lives. Talk to them. Know their friends. Be involved. And most important, don’t be blinded when there’s an obvious need for help. Seeing a child in treatment is a lot less embarrassing than having the national media camped in your front yard after a mass shooting.

There is a compromise – and, hopefully, positive results – in the middle of the argument, But that means both sides of the gun control issue must move to find common ground. We must bring reasonable ideas to the bargaining table, not marketing slogans.

If not, the carnage is certain to continue.

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