Opinion and Forefront

BECK: Let's talk reasonably about guns

February 2, 2013

BeckI didn’t want to write about guns.

The subject is fraught with complications. If I thought the political commentary on Facebook was extreme during the election, it became downright ludicrous following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On that Friday in December, I spent the last day of our post-election vacation with my 5-year-old at the beach, a little slice of Heaven on Earth.

When I picked up my phone and scrolled through Twitter, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Little children, just months older than the carefree child that chattered beside me, were brutally murdered in the place where they feel loved and safe.

I couldn’t bear to watch the news. I kept telling myself I was protecting my son from the horrible reality. I think I was protecting myself.

In our country, where we treasure and guard our individual liberties, little children were gunned down in their neighborhood public school. It’s impossible to go to a movie theater without the terrifying image of James Holmes spraying his victims with gunfire. The salesperson at a north-side mall shared that the retailer’s online market was booming, “because of, you know, last Friday.”

She whispered the last part so my son wouldn’t hear her.

I’m not a constitutional scholar, by any means, but I doubt this is what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they conceived the Second Amendment.

I have no issue with the Second Amendment. I’m from northern Minnesota, where the hunting and fishing “openers” are among the biggest weekends of the year. My father, who happened to hunt the occasional grouse, owned a gun.

During the Great Depression, my husband’s grandfather in Lawrence County was expected to bring back a squirrel for every shell his mother gave him. On a recent hike with my son and niece in Madison, we encountered the antlers and turkey feathers my sister’s neighbor had proudly displayed at his hunting cabin.

I have no issue with responsible gun owners.

I do have an issue with the gratuitous abundance of guns in our culture and the hysteria that ensues when citizens and lawmakers question it.

Why does one need a military-style assault rifle? Why is a gun show like a McDonald’s drive-through? Why does gun violence permeate movies, television and games? Why is buying a gun easier than purchasing cold medicine at the drugstore?

When lawmakers offer common-sense gun legislation proposals, similar to those endorsed by former President Reagan, why are they shouted down or ignored?

In our state, your co-workers can bring guns to work, as long as the guns stay in the car. One lawmaker led and passed legislation that voids all local gun laws. There is a proposal in the Legislature to allow guns on college campuses.

These guys will tell you the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The only good guys with guns who stopped the Jared Loughners, the James Holmeses and the shooters we hear about every day are our law enforcement officers. This isn’t a shootout in a Western movie.

I often think about the Sandy Hook parents when I pause to ruffle the messy bed head of my little boy before leaving him at school, the place where he feels safe and loved.

I hope we can have a reasonable and thoughtful discussion about guns. Because I fear the violence won’t end at an elementary school in Connecticut.•

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Beck served on the staffs of former Mayor Bart Peterson and former first lady Maggie Kernan. A resident of Irvington, Beck owns the strategic communications firm Beck Communications. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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