INDIANAPOLIS—The proposed bipartisan gun bill carved out in the U.S. Senate isn’t perfect.







John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com


And in these troubled times, that’s something.

The compromise measure won’t prevent people from buying military-style assault weapons. Nor will it stop young people from purchasing them—or provide for expanded background checks.

Such provisions are, of course, settled law in just about every industrialized self-governing country on earth. All those countries, also of course, record far lower numbers of deaths per 100,000 citizens by firearms than the United States does.

But passing such laws now is too much for the American political system to absorb.

That’s why the compromise proposal is much more limited in scope.

It would increase the scrutiny Americans from 18 to 21 must undergo before they buy an assault weapon, beef up school security measures, expand mental health and telehealth programs, close the “boyfriend loophole” that currently allows unmarried partners with histories of domestic abuse to own guns, tighten up licensed dealership definitions and help states implement red-flag laws.

All these are good, solid, common-sense steps.

They won’t save every life in America and they won’t end our country’s tragic epidemic of gun violence. But they will save some lives and they will make a dent in what is a huge problem.

It matters because every life we lose, whether it’s through a mass shooting or a day-to-day domestic dispute, is irreplaceable. Each death also creates its own circle of grief, suffering and damaged lives.

Even the survivors don’t get away clean from a shooting.

But not being able to save every life never has been an argument or a justification for not trying to save any lives.

For too long in this country, we have treated gun violence as if it were some sort of divinely inspired force, a power too great for human will and ingenuity to confront.

As a result, the numbers of American gun deaths mounted year after year while we sat paralyzed, unable to move or help in the face of ongoing horror and misery.

That’s not the American way.

Just as important as the practical effects of these measures is the liberating psychological effect of this gun-safety.

At last, finally—blessedly—people of good will and good faith on both sides of the divide are talking about ways we can meet and solve a common problem. This is the way our system is supposed to work.

Most Americans do not want to strip law-abiding gun owners of their right to own firearms. Nor do most Americans want everyone, however young, however unbalanced, to have access to whatever deadly weapons they wish to own.

The challenge always has been the eternal American challenge—how do we balance the rights of the individual against the legitimate interests of the community.

How do we preserve the rights of gun owners while providing for the safety of the greater public?

That’s an important conversation, but it’s precisely the discussion we’ve been prevented from having by the extremes—well, really, one extreme—in the debate over gun safety and gun laws.

Every time any community, any state or the nation considers a restriction on firearms, however mild, however practical, the gun lobby—organized by the National Rifle Association—does its best to intimidate or shout down anyone who wants to see if there’s a way we Americans can stop or even just slow down the carnage.

That’s what makes this proposed compromise measure so encouraging.

For the first time in a long time, our leaders in the U.S. Senate have decided to ignore the noise generated by the NRA and do what Americans do.

Work together to solve a problem.

Is it a perfect solution?

And in these troubled times, that’s something.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of Franklin College.



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