We need to talk about guns.
It is a topic fraught with emotion. Here is a simple fact: America is the leader among advanced nations in gun-related deaths. Events like the Las Vegas massacre happen with a frequency that is horrific. There is no guarantee that another mass casualty incident would not happen if we had stricter gun laws. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.
This conversation is about common sense. The National Rifle Association has always stated that any measure of gun control is an attempt to repeal the Second Amendment, a slippery slope to the continued erosion of our basic rights. The language they use contains the loaded meanings of freedom and liberty. As they frame it, if you favor common-sense limits on gun ownership, you are against freedom and liberty.
This is nonsense, and they ought to be ashamed. But shame is not an emotion that is felt by an organization whose official reaction to the brutal killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was that teachers need guns in the classroom.
Congress recently enacted legislation making it easier for individuals with mental illness to acquire guns. In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, the House took off the table a bill — the Hearing Protection Act — that would have made it easier for all Americans to buy silencers. Why would anyone need a silencer that costs hundreds of dollars to protect their hearing when a pair of protective ear muffs would cost you $30?
To be clear — I strongly support the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms is an essential right in our democracy. Hunters and collectors should have the ability acquire guns and use them. Every American has the right to have guns for self-defense. I grew up hunting, and I support those rights.
But I do not support the notion that the Republican Party must fight every piece of gun legislation ever introduced because of the deep pockets and social influence of the NRA. We should not allow high-capacity magazines greater than those our police forces use or “ bump stocks” that modify a gun to be virtually fully automatic.
We have entered a polarized world where thought is replaced by emotion. We are citizens of the greatest country on earth, and we should be able to talk about gun rights and reasonable limits on those rights. A man was able to buy enough guns to start an armory. He used those guns on our neighbors, and 59 of them are dead, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
It is time to have a conversation about guns and create a regulatory scheme that upholds the Second Amendment but not vilify either side as they work toward common-sense solutions.
I am running for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District because governance requires thought, compromise and patience. It requires common sense. A private individual was able to amass an arsenal of guns and killed 59 people at a music festival. Those people are no longer able to enjoy their rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Allowing one group of individuals their rights should not come at the expense of others. We need to start talking common sense, and protect everybody’s rights.
Craig Olson is a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District. He lives and works in Islesboro.