Karen Celestino-Horseman: Gun ownership should come at a price

Keywords Forefront / Opinion

Celestino-HorsemanUntil recently, I never contemplated owning a gun because my father had told me that if you do not think you can kill someone, you do not need to be pointing a gun at anyone.

Now, I am considering purchasing a gun. I don’t know why the change of heart, but I feel certain I would not hesitate to protect myself or those I love. But I still firmly believe in gun control.

Pragmatically speaking, we are never going to be able to ban guns, as there are just too many of them out there already. And I honestly believe most people are good people who are not going to misuse a gun. But gun ownership, like everything in life, should not be without limitations.

Every legislative session, there are lawmakers who seek to expand the how, when and where of gun ownership. A bill is currently pending that would provide grants for firearms training for teachers and allow teachers to carry guns in schools.

Aside from wondering what message it would send to children to see teachers walking around the school carrying guns on their hips or whether the teacher could physically defend against a student forcibly taking the gun away, there is the question of whether we want teachers to engage in shootouts should the worst transpire.

Yes, there is the possibility the teacher might be able to kill the shooter threatening the children, but it is more likely that the first shot will miss and then the shooter and the teacher will be engaged in firing at each other while our children run around them panicking. Training a teacher how to clean, load and safely handle a gun is far different from the training required to handle a gun in the midst of unarmed children who will react unpredictably. That requires constant, regular training.

Bills that would remove firearms from those involved in domestic violence cases, beef up our system of background checks, and require parents to secure their firearms are apparently going nowhere. In other words, anything that would make it more difficult to own a gun does not make it through the Indiana Legislature, much to the delight of the gun lobbyists.

Why can’t we limit the types of guns owned by our residents? Why shouldn’t gun-owning parents be held responsible if they store their gun(s) within easy access of children? Why can’t we have gun-free zones? Why can’t we require more in-depth background checks of gun purchasers?

The Constitution might promise the right to bear arms, but that right is not unlimited. The Constitution contains no promise that we have the right to own every type of gun or carry guns everywhere. And it certainly doesn’t promise gun ownership to persons whose past behavior indicates he/she cannot be trusted with a gun.

The issue of gun control is one we constantly face with the news of yet another shooting. And continually, our Legislature ducks the issue of what can be done to strengthen our laws to make safety the first priority. This legislative session appears to be no different.

It comes down to one final question: Are certain legislators legislating to appease their John Wayne alter ego or the gun lobby? Certainly, they are not legislating to protect us or our children.•

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Celestino-Horseman is an attorney and represents the Indiana Latino Democratic Caucus on the Democratic State Central Committee. Send comments to [email protected]

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