Why I Am Speaking Out on Gun Control

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Last week I shared my involvement in two national initiatives related to the gun control issue. I have participated in these two efforts in an attempt to influence the activities of our political leaders and to educate people about the many issues related to gun control. It is hard to judge the success of these initiatives, but I believe that they are worthy of my time and attention. Here is why.

My first reason is personal. I believe in gun control and am constantly chagrined when gun control efforts are conflated into debates about the second amendment and the rights of American citizens.  It seems to me that we can find a better balance between the individual rights of citizens and the safety and welfare of all of us.

I do not own a gun.  I never have and doubt I ever will.  But I respect many people who own guns.  My ten years of professional work in Wisconsin introduced me to people who hunted for need and pleasure.  Families in the schools I led hunted in order to feed their families.  Even more hunted as an annual sport.  For the most part, they were responsible, careful and respectful of the danger inherent in owning a weapon.

But I have also seen the violence and pain caused by guns.  I have attended the funerals of too many students who committed suicide with a gun easily accessible in their homes.  I have observed too many young adults throw away their future because of an act of violence.

So I publicly supported these initiatives because I believe in increased gun control.  It seems to me that we can do much more to limit the access to weapons, increase the oversight of gun purchases and sales, and control the access to weapons and ammunition that have nothing to do with personal safety and the sport of hunting.

I also agree that more proactive steps to increase the way we address mental illness are critical.  It’s not one or the other.  We need to limit and control weapons and deal more directly with those suffering from mental illness.

The second reason I supported these initiatives is because of the nature of my profession.  In fact, too many of the tragedies in this country occurred on college campuses or were perpetrated by a college-age student.  Despite our best efforts, most colleges have multiple points of access and students have a great deal of freedom as they live on campus and interact with friends from on and off campus.

Safety on our campus is a central issue and we take it very seriously.  But I think we can always do more and I support legislative and regulatory measures that may protect our students.

Some argue that we can never prevent bad people from doing harmful things.  I cannot disagree.  But that doesn’t mean we should not try.  We have an obligation to work for the Common Good.  We have a responsibility to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for our children and students.  Increased gun control is not the only answer, but it is one of them.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

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Guest Tuesday, 22 July 2014