More guns won’t lead to less violence

Violence is all around us. Every day, there are shootings and stabbings and muggings and assaults and attacks. Senseless killings happen everywhere, every day. They happened yesterday and they’ll happen today and again tomorrow. It goes on and on and unless we’re directly affected, it’s almost reached the point we can only shrug our shoulders, hope family and friends are OK and push on through another day.

Consider just a few of Thursday’s headlines that came across the Associated Press wire service:

• Teacher, student killed in stabbing attack on Swedish school

• Fatal shooting of 4-year-old began with traffic lane dispute

• Ex-convict charged in shooting of New Mexico police officer

• 5 suspects arraigned on murder charge in frat hazing death

• Police officer’s slaying puts ‘drug courts’ under scrutiny

• Attorneys: Black drummer shot 3 times, never fired his gun

• Israeli man shot dead after being mistaken for attacker

You get the idea. This isn’t a new trend. Perhaps it seems like it’s happening more due to increased publicity. But the reality is, this world has for centuries been filled with violence and people hating people and people killing people. There are pockets of peace. Some indeed do make it through life unscarred. But many do not.

Is there a solution? Can we ever truly live in a utopian, peaceful society? Some believe the place to start is by more folks arming themselves. You’ve likely heard that saying, “Only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And yes, no doubt if someone is opening fire on people in public, it would help if someone had a gun so they could try and stop them before police arrive.

Or would it?

Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry disagrees.

“Just because somebody has a gun, doesn’t mean that they’ll stop an active shooter,” he said. “It has to be somebody that’s trained and that knows what they’re doing, and that has law enforcement powers, and that knows the difference between property crime and a crime of violence.”

“More guns is not the answer,” Perry said. “It doesn’t make sense and it’s not going to solve our problem.”

He is right.

Yes, there could be a time, for instance when you’re out for a evening stroll and a mugger approaches, a gun will come in handy for your safety. Or if someone breaks into your home you would want a firearm to defend yourself and protect your family. But studies have shown having a gun in a home will more likely result in an unintentional shooting than actually using a gun in home defense.

Strict laws, Perry said, are the way to go — and Hawaii is setting the example for the rest of the nation.

In Hawaii, to obtain a gun, you have to apply for a permit at the police station. Applicants are required to have a valid form of identification and have taken some sort of firearms safety class. Applicants are fingerprinted and agree to a background check — and then wait 14 days for approval.

The list of those who can’t acquire a firearm is long in Hawaii and includes anyone with a felony on their record, anyone who has been in treatment for dependence on liquor and other intoxicants, and anyone who has been diagnosed with mental illness.

We’re not suggesting people shouldn’t have guns. We’re not advocating that the government come and take everyone’s weapons. Certainly, people have the right to own a gun. They should be versed in using it. They should practice with it. They should keep it in a safe place at home. They have the right to protect themselves.

But we are saying that backgrounds checks like those in Hawaii are necessary. And we are saying the answer to the violence that’s all around us will not end the day everyone is walking around with a handgun holstered to their chest.

So what can we do about all these shootings and stabbings and muggings and assaults and attacks that go on all around us? Is there a way to prevent them from happening today and tomorrow? Probably not. The world is full of hate-filled people who, for whatever reasons, wish to harm others. There is no absolute answer that will create peace on Earth. But some bright people have offered their thoughts on this subject. What they had to say is worth sharing and worth considering. Perhaps the words of these five men will, some day, bring about the changes this world needs that they spoke of long ago.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

— Nelson Mandela

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”

— John F. Kennedy

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

— Albert Einstein

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

—Winston Churchill

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