Monday, December 24, 2012

Another Shooting Survivor Comes Out In Favor Of Gun Violence Prevention

After years of working to reduce gun violence, I've noticed a pattern: by and large those people who survive shootings come out in favor of tighter gun regulation.  Other than myself, take for example Colin Goddard, survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, or Joseph Jaskolka, who survived a head wound from celebratory gunfire, or Stephen Barton, who survived the Aurora theater massacre.

I greatly enjoy talking with the public about gun issues.  The vast majority agree with me on the various gun violence prevention measures, such as requiring background checks for private gun sales.  In my conversations, I all-too-common come across people who have either been in shootings or have loved ones or friends who have been in shootings, some of whom died.  Not one of these people supported the sort of rhetoric spouted by the NRA or the gun guys.

Here's another one, Carl M. Hay, who just survived the Clackamas mall shooting here in Oregon.  He just had a letter to the editor published in the Oregonian, along with a number of other moving letters advocating for stronger gun control.  Here is Mr. Hay's letter:

As a survivor of the Clackamas Town Center shooting, I have a few thoughts about gun control. 
1. We cannot expect a "magic" solution that will stop these shootings. Watch out for arguments that say gun control cannot stop them, so we should do nothing or we should arm more people. 
2. Time is crucial. Anything we can do to slow the rate of gunfire will save lives. Smaller ammunition clips, for example, make a lot of sense. 
3. Access to assault weapons has to be limited by bans, stricter purchase laws, mandatory trigger locks, barrel locks or gun safes. 
4. If a weapon is stolen and used against people, and the owner has not protected it from theft, the owner must be held responsible. 
Anyone who has been in the direct line of fire coming from one of these assault rifles knows the incredible killing power that they have. That power, in my opinion, must be regulated. 
Southeast Portland

There have been a very few instances, I've found, where gun guys will say they have been victims, but when I press it, they typically either refuse to say what the situation was, or they admit to having drawn their weapons first because they felt "threatened."  Almost never were they actually at the wrong end of a barrel at the start.  Yes, there are examples, but they are few and far between.  

Gee, I wonder why that is?  If we were like the gun-totin' advocates, shouldn't our experiences have made us paranoid of the "monsters" who "walk among us every single day" (as Wayne LaPierre recently said in his let's-militarize-our-schools presentation) and echo the NRA's "Circus of Fear?"

No.  Instead, it forces us to realize a very basic fact: the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to keep him from getting that gun in the first place, and to limit the killing power available to him.