The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

February 24, 2013

Looking at gun debate from new perspective

— Newspapers from around the country have filled a lot of columns discussing the gun debate. We have no interest at this juncture of debating the Constitutional issues surrounding gun ownership. However, we do think that it is time we provide a different viewpoint.

From a societal perspective, increasing the number of guns in the hands of citizens does increase the likelihood of gun violence. Simple odds tell us that much.

But America is not a single organism with a collective consciousness. It is a country made up of hundreds of millions of people. Individually, owning a gun can be an effective means of self-defense.

So where does that leave us?

Unfortunately, we cannot stop random acts of violence. They are, after all, random by definition. No amount of planning, restrictions or regulations can prevent someone bent on committing a violent act from doing it. Completely eliminating these acts would require too great a loss of personal freedoms.

However, as a country, a state and as individuals, we can take steps to reduce gun violence.

We can begin by securing our own guns, ensuring that our children cannot reach them and thieves cannot simply steal them out of our vehicles. This might seem like an obvious step, but as accidental shootings across the country demonstrate, it is not obvious to every gun owner.

Secondly, gun owners should make sure they know how to handle a gun and understand basic gun safety. In Texas, such owners receive such training and information when they apply for their CHL. But not everyone who owns a gun has gone through this kind of training.

Finally, background checks that can identify individuals that disqualify for gun ownership (felons, some of the mentally-disabled) need to be required for all purchases, whether through a dealership or gun show.

These steps would require time and money, but we believe their potential to eliminate even a handful of violent incidents is worth it.

In the end, however, it is important to remember that it is not society or guns that kill people. Individuals kill people. Often, these individuals live on the fringe of society, outcasts that struggle communicating with other people.

The focus on the national debate about what kinds of guns should be legal and the size of ammunition clips seems to be ignoring this fact. Ending gun violence doesn’t begin with placing restrictions on guns.

It starts with taking personal responsibility for our actions and being sympathetic to those around us that so clearly need our help.

The Herald-Banner editorial staff can be reached at