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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Time for a national dialogue over guns

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My original plan today was to write a humorous column on the end of the world prophecy some believe is coming our way this Friday.

But the truth is, the tragic event in Connecticut this past week has removed humor from the national conversation.

If there's one common national theme right now, it hinges on the question of "why?"

None of us can fully understand the darkness that brings such tragedies. And this collective lack of understanding will linger forever.

Quite understandably, this sick episode has spawned the debate on mental illness and gun control. It has also prompted a focus on violence in the media and video games.

In our quest to answer the "why" question, we first must assume that the evil in this mass murder was the result of some form of mental illness. Without accepting this conclusion, we must then face the reality that anyone is capable of such evil.

And we cannot -- and will not -- accept that possibility. Nor should we.

But it also puts into focus the question of gun control and the ready availability of cheap and highly inappropriate assault weaponry into the hands of virtually everyone.

And even for a conservative, it's time we had that discussion. But discussions are useless without action.

I am a novice when it comes to the question of firearms. Much of what I do know is gleaned from the headlines.

But I do know this: When gangs are better armed than law enforcement, then some sort of action seems highly appropriate.

On the same day as the Connecticut tragedy and far on the other side of the world in China, a deranged man entered a school classroom and stabbed and cut 22 school children.

The point is that when someone is hell-bent on doing harm, the weapon of choice is secondary.

Few will argue that the school shooting is cause to remove all gun ownership rights. That is a constitutional issue deeply ingrained in our national heritage.

But within that argument there should be room for some discussion on the types of weaponry available.

Yet the stark reality is that even with tougher laws and stringent enforcement, evil can and will surface still.

As parents and grandparents, we'll hug our kids a little tighter and linger longer than usual.

And we'll say prayers for our families and for those we will never know.

Society can never fully remove evil. But in the wake of such tragedies, we'll start an energized debate on the role of firearms in society and the even tougher issue of mental illness.

How sad that we must face such events to promote this discussion. Yet that national dialogue may be the only positive that comes from such tragedies.

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen