Been watching the gun debates in Congress.

Many of our clients work with people affected by gun violence. Roughly 9k people are killed in this country by guns annually, with many more wounded. In my life, that’s nearing half a million dead by guns in this country alone.

Guns and gun violence touches everyone, and I really do mean everyone.  Ask around. You don’t have to support nonprofits working at the intersection of poverty, depression, mental illness and crime for this to be true.  

I frequently get asked where we come down on this.  We’ve heard reasoned arguments all around.  To me, the question is how we take reasonable steps to protect people. How do we protect ourselves from gun violence while protecting the right to bear arms that’s in our constitution?

My personal opinion is that people buying and using guns should be licensed like drivers are.  People who use guns should go through safety training that is required and administered by each state. I’ve used guns – handguns  rifles and shotguns – and I think it’s a good idea to ensure that people using guns have gun safety training.

I think that guns should be registered with states in the same way that cars are. It increases the owner’s sense of responsibility to secure their firearms, and reduces the transfer of firearms to criminals and others who should not have them. I feel that sale of particular kinds of ammunition, such as that which can penetrate the bullet proof vests of law enforcement, should be controlled. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I worry about the safety of our law enforcement professionals and don’t really understand the need to have ammunition designed for military applications on our streets.

Now I understand that some people feel the need to periodically shoot military-style weapons, and perhaps that should be protected. I personally don’t understand the need, but there are lots of things people do that I don’t understand and people’s other views should be respected. I do feel that there should at least be an elevated requirement for training, licensing and use of weapons which are at the edge of purely military applications.  It’s something I’d like to discuss with people who know more about these military weapons.

Such measures won’t end gun deaths or violence, but they elevate our sense of responsibility for who has guns and how they’re used, and it increases knowledge about how to use guns safely while protecting the rights of law abiding citizens who simply wish to exercise their rights.

That’s my opinion…

What do you think?

Justice, Health & Human Services, Programs & Policy