Gun control is an individual responsibility

The most effective measure to prevent tragedy belongs with the gun owner, not government.

WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2012 – With more fallout from the Newtown tragedy still ahead, lawmakers are scrambling to enact legislation along with promises of new measures to ensure the safety of our children. 

New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand stated on her Facebook wall yesterday: “…This is a long overdue conversation for our nation to have and the American people deserve action from their elected leaders.  It’s my hope that in the next Congress, we can come together to ban assault weapons and high capacity clips, close the gunshow loophole and fix our background system.” 

A statement like that shows how out of touch our elected representatives are with the real world.  There’s a weak case to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines; after all, the AR-15 is designed to efficiently kill people, not big game. 

However, neither gunshow sales nor faults in the background system were to blame for this tragedy.  Blame is being assigned to this horrific event, but it is being placed on a tool that when placed in the hands of a mentally unstable individual becomes a tool of killing.  This tool in the hands of a responsible law abiding citizen is a deterrent, to foes both foreign and domestic.  Further blame is being cast on loose trades at gun shows, and even further, it is being cast on flaws in a background check system.  All of this blame is wrong and misdirected.

Who is to blame?  

The one rightful person who has not yet been blamed… the gun owner.

News reports state that attempts by the gunman to legally purchase guns failed, as they should have.  The installed system worked as designed.  The broken link is the failure of the gun owner to lock away firearms in a manner that no one could gain unauthorized access to them. Sometimes locking them up just isn’t enough.

Unfortunately, Nancy Lanza paid for that error with her life.  We do not know for sure the details of her son acquiring the guns, but what is apparent is that her son knew how to get into her weapons cache.  If they were locked, he knew where the key was kept, or he knew the combination to the lock box.  Having an unstable member of the family is grounds for extra vigilance when it comes to gun safety.  He shot his own mother with her own gun, which is indicative of poor controls.

This is not a matter for government.  This is a matter for Americans.  Legal gun owners have a responsibility to safeguard firearms so they do not fall into the wrong hands.   This is a responsibility as great as driving a car clean and sober. 

Why do we need government to impose restraint upon us, when we can impose self-discipline and responsibility on ourselves and still remain safe and free?  Have we become so dependent on government that we should allow them to take away rights that belong to us, simply because we can’t seem to be responsible enough to manage these rights?  We need the government to save us from ourselves? 

All of Senator Gillibrand’s proposed laws and measures are meaningless if we lose vigilance and just let our guns lay about.  Some gun owners need to exercise more controls than others.  Those with unstable family members, those with young and inquisitive children or those that live in crime prone areas where addicts routinely burglarize for drug funds need to be especially cautious.

If you legally own firearms, secure them.  Ask yourself questions.  Who knows about my guns?  Can someone take my keys and gain access to my guns?  Does someone know where I keep my key for my safe or trigger locks?  Who knows the combination to my gun safe?  Take every possible precaution to ensure your guns cannot fall into the wrong hands.

As an American gun owner, it is your duty to your country and your fellow American citizens to own your firearms responsibly.

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Michael Jaeger

Mike Jaeger's column, Greater than Energy (">Energy") can be found under the Health and Science area of the Washington Times Communities and he has been writing this column since July of 2012.  He occasionally writes pieces on economics and politics as well.  He has expertise in energy, energy markets and energy production and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Science and Technology in Nuclear Engineering Technology.


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