Letter to the Editor: Reflections on the Gun Control Debate

Alexandrian Margaret Gerlach urges support for state Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria and Arlington Del. Patrick Hope in their efforts to foster gun laws.

To the Editor;
Two recent national events have caused me to reflect on the nature of our democracy.

In the capitol of the most powerful country on earth we witnessed the peaceful continuation of leadership. In a small Connecticut town we witnessed a violent destruction of sanctuary. The co-existence of these two extraordinary outcomes encapsulates the struggle inherent in our continuing experiment with self- rule that is The United States.

The recent presidential inauguration was an inspirational example of our ability to resolve differences and maintain a well-functioning society. Newtown was an obscene example of our failure to do so. The lack of agreement over sensible gun control must end.

As an American, I know we can resolve this issue. Through personal involvement and interaction with our representatives we can affect positive change. We are a raucously and, I think, gloriously diverse nation but we share a common interest in ensuring public safety. We must do it now.

As a grandmother, I value the contribution that my grandsons and all our children will have on the future of America. Despite differences, we love our children. We expect that every child will be safe in school. I know we are capable of respecting gun- owners’ rights while ensuring that the mayhem we witnessed in Connecticut does not continue.

It must not be allowed to continue.

I realize there is a wide variance of feelings regarding guns in this country.  The emotional component of this issue makes it difficult to resolve; but not impossible. Americans have proven they can accomplish anything they deem important. It is vital we do this now. Personally, my views were shaped by the turbulent 60’s. I lived through the assassination of political and civil leaders.  I witnessed via media the shootings of my peers as they protested against war and for civil rights. Guns stop debate. I am therefore highly skeptical of their value to society.

As a realist, I know the equally legitimate views of gun supporters are based on family traditions of hunting and marksmanship and the desire to protect themselves and their families. Arguments can be made on both sides.  There can be no rational argument made against the need to protect our children.  Guns are potentially dangerous tools. They and their operators must be regulated as stringently as automobiles and drivers. Guns must be kept out of the hands of those who would do harm.

As a Virginian, I am deeply interested in and concerned about the legislative battles in Richmond regarding gun use. I know Virginia has Common Law statutes which currently address the “appropriate” and “Justifiable” use of firearms. I also understand that ALEC and their protégés are pushing “stand Your Ground” laws such as the Florida law which led to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

These laws greatly lower the bar on justifiable homicide.  Stopping this dangerous and unnecessary legislation is something all reasonable and fair minded Virginians can support.  We must do it now.

As an Alexandrian, I urge you to support State Sen. Adam Ebbin and Arlington Del. Patrick Hope in their efforts to foster sensible gun laws. This is something all of us can do.  The victims of senseless gun violence deserve our consideration.

For the love of children, do it now.

Margaret Gerlach

Todd Hutchings January 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Ms. Gerlach, Exactly what are "sensible gun control laws"? You do realize Virginia (and every other state/Commonwealth) already has sensible gun control laws on their books. To legally purchase a firearm, you have to submit to a back ground check and there is a record of the transaction. You can't be a convicted felon and must be of legal age. To get a concealed carry permit, you must pass another background check and attend mandatory training. There are adequate laws in place, we don't need any more. Far more people in the United States die from smoking related disease than firearm violence every year. Perhaps we should focus on "sensible smoking laws". More people are killed in alcohol related vehicle crashes than by firearm violence each year. Should be bring back prohibition? Point is, we have far more important things to fix before we try to fix something that isn't broken. While horrible mass shootings seem to be the norm in today’s society, a miniscule fraction of a percent of people out there shouldn’t dictate the freedoms of the vast majority of responsible gun owners. What would have stopped the Newton massacre are well trained armed guards at the school, not limits on magazine size.
NoBS January 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Todd, your entire first paragraph is wrong. First of all, due to the gun show loophole, all sorts of people who shouldn't own gunds are buying them freely. On top of that, many guns are sold on the black market. The first part of "sensible gun control" would be to ban all high capacity (automatic and semi-automatic) weapons and ammunition for anyone except police and the military. Then fix the gun show loophole. That would be a good start.
Todd Hutchings January 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Gail, The gun show loophole needs to be closed, but that loophole only applies to private gun sales, not the sales at booths. If you want to operate a booth at a gun show, you are required to run background checks. What is "high capacity", more than 10? A well trained shooter can fire off a 6 shot revolver faster than I can fire a semi auto pistol or rifle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLk1v5bSFPw The founders of this nation wrote the 1st Amendment to guarantee us the right to peacefully assemble, free speech, free press, and free religion. When they realized how awesome that was, they wrote the 2nd Amendment as the insurance policy for it. How would you implement your proposed ban? Are you going to have the government seize personal property that was legally acquired in violation of the 4th Amendment? Who would carry this out, the Military? Do you think gang members and thugs will willingly turn in their illegally acquired weapons?
Blane Adcock January 28, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Your comment “stand Your Ground” laws such as the Florida law which led to the murder of Trayvon Martin." is reprehensible on its' face. The trial has not commenced, is has not been proven by a far cry his death was a murder. You should have used different wording. You can argue the "Stand Your Ground Laws" may have led to his death and I would respect the opinion, but the M word is premature at best. The gun show loophole is not really as big a deal as everyone wants to make it. I have been to many gun shows and seen people with guns offered for "private sale" -mostly some old bolt action rifle or shotgun slung over their shoulder with a sign taped on it stating a desired price or what they are willing to trade for. -It isn't like someone is there with a table full of AK's and AR's letting them go out the door with anyone who has cash. Many responsible gun owners already self-police by only selling to strangers through an FFL, which performs the background check. Some others might skip this step if the buyer has a valid CCW, which indicates they have been checked out already. Universal background checks don't really make sense when my relatives and I swap around guns between ourselves, which would be a felony without paying for a background check. The universal background check is really a backdoor to registration, since they would require the make model and serial number of ever gun transferred. I am adamantly opposed to registration, which is a whole other subject.


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