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Law-abiding citizens deserve their rights

Minnesota lawmakers in both political parties would like to address the issue of gun violence. But Republicans and Democrats also share a distrust of one another, and a disdain for the other side’s ideas. This was evident again this week, as Republicans in the Senate introduced several bills that focus on more penalties for crimes involving firearms. Republicans also want to force Minneapolis and St. Paul to spend at least 10 percent of their state aid to hire more police officers.

The Democratic approach, on the other hand, involves legislation that would require background checks for personal sales of firearms and for guns sold at trade shows. Democrats also want to institute a “red flag” law to allow police or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The two sides openly contend that the other is too far removed from reality. Hence the standoff.

At a basic level, a gun is a tool. What is its purpose? Violence. The invention of the gun certainly allowed mankind to be violent in a new way. But guns also do something else that is vitally important: they allow physically weaker human beings to defend themselves against any potential attacker, including one of enormous strength. They are a great equalizer.

So the tool can be used for good and bad. It’s not the tool’s fault.

There are deeper questions that need to be asked about our society, how children are raised and taught, what values we embrace, what messages are conveyed through media and what other factors help create human beings who believe initiating gun violence against others is acceptable.

And if these questions are just too deep or intractable, then gun rights are more important than ever. Innocent, law-abiding citizens have and deserve every right to protect themselves and their families from those who represent threats, however those threats come into being.

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