By GENE H. MCINTYRE
Many older folks will remember the playground ditty of our youth, the one that read, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Names may or may not hurt but the words we use in our daily discourse most certainly can and do.
I thought of the “sticks and stones” expression the other day while listening once again to a debate on what’s currently called gun control. Maybe calling gun control by some other name just might make progress towards bringing people together to turn the heat down, making America safer and more sane.
So, how about trying a re-name to “gun restrictions?” Why? Because the intent as recognized by many Americans is to restrict the purchase of military-style assault weapons, magazines that exceed practical use limits, and to require thorough background checks wherever a gun is purchased. Meanwhile, it is not now nor has it ever been intended to take away hunting rifles and all handguns in an attempt to expunge the Constitution of its Bill of Rights, Amendment 2.
What many Americans want is that guns designed to take lives or kill people be made unavailable. Call me naïve if that makes the reader here happy; nevertheless, this measure would seem to be in the best interest of every law-abiding citizen in the country.
Some among us say they must have high-powered weapons because the government may decide any day now to break their doors down and enter their homes to take what they own and need for self protection. This strikes me as a straw man argument because, other than those persons who are suspected of breaking the law or are known to have broken it, the United States and its state and local level law-enforcement agencies do not, as anything like a general rule, arbitrarily break into and enter homes, much less without a warrant to legally permit it.
There is one other matter that deserves much more attention than it has received. That is the issue of mental health. We do rather poorly at making it easy for Americans to come forward to ask for counseling help to deal with their mental problems: So much of it at present comes with a stigma that can too often result in job loss, social ostracism and any other number of negative outcomes.
For the sake of bringing to some acceptable resolution the gun debate, it would seem to behoove us to find common ground or compromise that will minimize the hostility between the two sides that presently appear irreconcilable. After all, do we not fall into the hands of domestic and foreign terrorists when we fight among ourselves while they dedicate themselves to acts of violence against us?
(Gene H. Mclntyre lives in Keizer.)