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Letter to the Editor: Need Sensible 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 ‘60s. 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

Alexandria