Get serious about guns - Catholic Courier

Get serious about guns

To the editor:

During this season when we celebrate peace on earth, evil came into our world with a vengeance Dec. 15 in Newtown, Connecticut. In what has become an all too common occurrence, a mentally disturbed young man with access to semi-automatic weapons and ammunition took the lives of many innocent victims.

For the past 14 years, I have served as the chairman of the Project Exile Advisory Board. Rochester was the second city in the nation to implement Project Exile, a joint law-enforcement and community initiative to remove illegal guns from the streets. As noted in our Annual Report to the Community earlier this month, Project Exile has helped to remove more than 14,000 illegal guns from people who were using them to commit crimes or from individuals who have lost their rights to own guns.

As more details emerged regarding this horrific event in Newtown, all I could think about was that this woman legally purchased the firearms used by her son, including two semi-automatic pistols, a semi-automatic assault weapon, large clips and plenty of ammunition. If she had stored the guns in a secure location, separate from the ammunition, perhaps this disturbed young man might have been prevented from having caused so much devastation.

The time has come for our elected leaders to have a responsible conversation about the Second Amendment and the proliferation of guns in society. No one denies that every law-abiding American citizen has the right to own a firearm, but do we need to have so many of them? Can we take the personal responsibility to store and secure them properly? Are semi-automatic assault rifles necessary even for those who hunt, do target shooting, or keep guns for personal defense and security? Do we have to have armor-piercing bullets? And when will we close loopholes that allow people to purchase guns without background checks, as they now can do at gun shows or in private transactions.

While we need to provide a support system for individuals and families dealing with mental illness, we need to have a very serious conversation about guns. This conversation needs to start with our leadership. Hopefully this latest tragedy will lead to some positive action.

Gary Mervis
Chairman & Founder, Camp Good Days and Special Times, Inc.
Chairman, Project Exile Advisory Board

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