Open letter to Ken Trainor on the last meeting of the Gun Rights and Responsibilities Group – RIP:
The Gun Rights and Responsibilities Group effort is coming to an end and as the meeting was concluding, you asked the gun rights members "What do you want?"
The reply that was never stated was that we want to be left alone. We participated to protect our second amendment rights from those of you who seem to believe that you know what is best for our community and feel that creating endless regulations will solve a problem that exists mostly outside of our community.
Hundreds of hours have been expended trying to solve a serious inner-city gun violence problem by dreaming up regulations to place controls on the legitimate, reasonable, non-violent gun owner. Why haven't we attempted to develop draconian restrictions on the violent, irrational people who possess and use guns outside of the law? Why? Because it's hard!
We would be required to admit that there are crazy people who follow the dictates of those little voices they hear. We would be required to admit that a sector of our population has no problem resolving disputes by killing one another and anyone who happens to get in the way. We would be required to admit a drug trafficking problem and its resulting turf wars. We would have to admit that a lawless, less-than-civilized group of citizens is not one bit concerned about any law, rule, ordinance or regulation we might concoct.
It would be necessary to critically examine politically explosive subjects like welfare, poverty, race, education, political corruption, destruction of family values and on and on. Not one member of this committee wants a mentally ill person to have access to firearms. None of us want felons, gang-bangers or drug dealers to have guns of any description. Equally important, not one of us want our neighbors to think we are "politically incorrect," "insensitive," or the granddaddy of them all "a racist."
In any honest evaluation of the gun violence problem, societal issues must not be removed from the table, but rather should be made the core of the discussion. Suppose that every recommendation of this committee became an implemented part of federal, state and local law. Past history tells us that after the legislative change, Oak Park would see no statistical improvement. Honest, law-abiding citizens conscientiously follow the law whereas gang-bangers, felons and druggies predictably do not!
The Gun Rights and Responsibilities Group has struggled to define and understand a daunting problem and we have, mistakenly, assumed that controls on the law-abiding will in some way change the behavior of the criminals and thugs.
I hope this exercise has revealed the complexity of our society's gun-violence problems and a raft of problems that far exceeds this group's scope of purpose. I believe that this exploration and these discoveries have made our trip worthwhile even if the final conclusion, of our group, is that we agree to disagree. I feel that I have made several good friends from both sides of this issue and hope we keep in contact in spite of our difference.
Ray Simpson is an Oak Park resident and a member of the Gun Rights and Responsibilities Group, an ad hoc citizens committee that has been discussing the issue of gun violence since January.
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