Recently in my home state of Montana, there were two murders by guns in a mid-sized town in the span of a week. One incident involved a mother suffering from postpartum depression and the second involved a scorned lover with mental health issues. Murder is not something Montana faces very often. These incidents have me very troubled, especially as my husband and I talk about growing our family and our desire to move back west to raise our hypothetical children. We want our children to be able to bike to a friend’s house without worry and we want our children to explore the world in freedom and safety. But these two gun related incidents weigh heavy on my mind and heart.
I’m a sportswoman and love to hunt. I respect individual freedoms, the right to bear arms and gun owner rights. But in this election cycle spurring anger and fear, I’m worried and I’m worried the gun control conversation has gone irreparably off the rails. I’m not naïve and understand it was inevitable gun control would be highlighted but what has me worried is that both the left and the right are already entrenched in their respective rhetoric and unwilling to hear each other.
On an issue that affects whether people live or die, it would be nice if we could treat this as more than a political bludgeon.
By no means am I a gun expert but I do own guns and handle them with care and safety. I’ve also probably read as much as the average citizen on guns – which means I’ve not done a deep dive. But I’m writing today because I feel compelled to try and find middle ground on this tough issue. There are ideas on both sides of the table that make sense and potentially if paired together could help create a better world with guns.
I believe we need to strengthen background checks in all facets including gun shows and internet sales, hold irresponsible dealers and manufactures accountable and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, other violent criminals and the severely mentally ill. These three principals are admittedly of liberal leaning but I also believe in computerizing mental health records for background checks, which is an idea the NRA has been pushing since the 80s. I believe our citizens should have the right to buy their choice of gun but also believe to own any gun citizens should have to go through a safety class modeled after hunter education. Policies designed with real gun owners in mind, not the gun industry or those who think we should somehow live in a gun free world.
Implementing all these practices could help bring comprehensive gun control to America but like many issues these days no one will meet in the middle or speak up to seek common ground. It would seem most Republican and Democratic candidates are more interested in stoking the flames of their base than working toward solutions- not surprising given it’s an election year but there’s little reason to believe that dynamic will change in 2017. It’s time to stop being nervous and ask all candidates to work for bi-partisan gun solutions that work- enough is enough.
Whitney is the owner and operator of Camo is the New Black. As a fifth-generation Montanan, she was born and raised by a family of conservationists and avid hunters. For almost a decade, Whitney has worked for conservation non-profits and continues to love working in politics to benefit the outdoors. Want to know more about why Camo is the New Black started? Read Whitney’s first post, “Silver-Lining”.