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From The Publisher’s Desk: The 2nd Amendment is not a suicide pact

I am not a fan of community newspapers that get caught up in national issues, which are already covered by national newspapers and cable news networks. Community newspapers owe it to our readers to provide them the local news the big guys ignore.

Sometimes the national news comes home. A Herald reader recently brought a national discussion to our doorstep when she sent me a message to cancel her subscription because we had published an advertisement for the American Legion raffle of an AR-15.

She said I could call her if I had any questions. I didn’t. I understand exactly where she’s coming from and I share her concerns about gun violence if not her beliefs about the solution to the problem.

I doubt I’m alone in seeing both sides of the gun control ar- guments and finding that I don’t agree entirely with either side. I’m a gun owner. I grew up with guns and by the time I was six years old I knew there was no such thing as an unloaded gun and to never point one at anything you weren’t planning to kill. My father gave me a shotgun for my 13th birthday. I still have it, along with several other weapons, including an AR-15, other military rifles and handguns.

I have a concealed carry permit and a few years ago was the victim of a home invasion. My sons and I fought off the two men who kicked in our front door and then I held a gun on them while we waited for the police. I am a gun enthusiast.

I am not a member of the National Rifle Association – the NRA. Its mindless opposition to even the most common sense gun control measures and its them-versus-us approach to people who want to ensure that only law-abiding and mentally stable Americans can legally buy guns helps ensure that the loudest voices in the gun-control conversation are those who want to ban guns and those who want a return to the Wild West.

In my opinion, when people like our disgruntled reader and others want to ban “assault” rifles like the AR-15, the blame falls squarely on the NRA and its refusal to allow our elected leaders to engage in a thoughtful, intelligent debate about ways to re- duce gun violence.

The NRA shuts down the conversation by attacking politi- cians who dare to engage in such a conversation, particularly those Republican leaders who are most likely to defend gun rights. They not only cut their overly-generous purse strings, they mobilize their members against the politicians who don’t toe the NRA line and even back primary opponents who will toe the line.

My brother lives in Coral Springs. His oldest son is a Broward County Deputy Sheriff and his middle son is a high school football coach in the area. When the Parkland shooting happened, my family felt its effects personally.

When the surviving students started speaking out about gun violence, I understood their anger and their fears. They are right that we need to find a way to keep people like Nicholas Cruz from being able to get a semi-automatic rifle and use it to shoot innocent kids in our schools. They’re wrong when they think banning AR-15s will solve the problem, but we need to have the conversation they started.

If you call them names and insult them, you’re not going to change any minds. If you disagree with what they say, explain why. Together we can find a solution to this problem.

If you think Parkland, Las Vegas or Sandy Hook never hap- pened and that the victims, survivors and police are crisis actors involved in a mass conspiracy, you’re an idiot and there’s no room for you in an intelligent conversation.

Words By: Mark Pettus, Publisher