Gun Owners need to take a Stand on Gun Control

In our country, the debate over gun control seems to be divided between those who use guns in a safe manner and those who have never shot one in their life. In the wake of yet another atrocious school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., our dialogue over this increasingly polarizing issue will need to involve people from both sides of the aisle. We have no other choice.

Every few months or so we all hear of another tragic shooting on the news and we react with a justified response of anger and sadness. But then nothing ever gets changed. The problem goes unsolved. People offer their “thoughts and prayers” to those affected by the shooting, but thoughts and prayers don’t solve the problem.

What will solve the problem is legislative action. Unfortunately, Washington continues to fail us on the issue of gun control. An article published by the political journalism company Politico this past October found that 64 percent of Americans, including half of all Republican voters, support stronger gun control laws. Yet, only 26 percent of those surveyed thought Congress would pass any laws to reflect the people’s interests. The lobbying power of the NRA likely has something to do with this vast disparity.

What has been encouraging, however, is the passion displayed by youth around our country, especially those personally affected by school shootings. Multiple students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have displayed extraordinary acts of courage by publicly calling out the failures of our so-called leaders to produce any change (I encourage you all to watch the CNN clip of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez’s amazing speech on this issue if you haven’t already). While so many issues surrounding gun control are hazy, one fact is crystal clear: our generation will be the solution to this problem.

Guns are a fundamental symbol of personal liberty in our nation. Our right to possess them is explicitly stated in the constitution. As a hunter myself, I would be outraged if they were taken away from all law abiding citizens.  However, that does not mean they can’t be regulated. While I do believe that personal liberty should have precedent over personal security as a political philosophy, in this case, there’s not enough balance. The solemn conditions of our present situation cannot justifiably continue.

Therefore, guns cannot be treated with the same kind of privilege as they are today. We need stronger laws about who can own them. We need more funds to properly screen people who want to buy one. But most of all, we need gun owners, especially of my generation, to be a part of the solution. Gun owners know how important gun safety is and we also know what types of guns should be allowed for hunting and recreational purposes. In Montana we must all stand together to make sure that the next generation doesn’t have to go to school with the same fear as ours.