Legislation forcing adults to keep guns out of kids’ hands is no threat to responsible gun owners

February 3, 2023 12:07 am

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Raised, as I was, in deeply rural America, I grew up around guns. I treasured them for the same reason I loved fishing poles: they meant time spent hunting or fishing with my dad, granddad or uncle.

Guns didn’t scare me because I respected them. I was taught early that they are not toys and drilled on how to use and store them safely. I’ve done that as a father to two sons of my own, both now grown, when they were old enough to hunt and own a shotgun.

When I was young, gun-owners’ organizations devoted more time and resources to shooter education than to lobbying for essentially unrestricted, universal access to even the deadliest war weapons.

Now, with the modern Republican Party as the gun lobby’s groveling footman, even modest, common sense gun safety legislation is shredder fodder when GOP lawmakers get their hands on it.

It’s happening now in the Virginia General Assembly.

As the Mercury reported this week, legislation that would require households in which children reside to safely store their firearms is dying before Republican-dominated committees in the House.

The bill by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, was a sensible response to a 6-year-old boy who allegedly took a legally purchased 9 mm handgun from his home and shot his teacher in an elementary school classroom in Newport News. A similar bill that passed the Senate likely faces the same fate in the House.

We can speculate all day about why Newport News school officials didn’t find the gun despite multiple warnings that the child had it in his possession at school. A lawsuit the wounded teacher, Abigail Zwerner, plans to file against the school district is likely to yield some damning answers. The child is too young to prosecute. No charges have been brought against his parents.

Beyond speculation, however, is that if a child so young could get his hands on the weapon, take it to school and shoot someone, it was not secured.

There are more guns in America than there are Americans to shoot them,  but there’s far  less accountability. Efforts to compel some accountability get buried in absurd rhetoric that casts “good, law-abiding and responsible gun owners” as victims.

They’re not victims; they’re heroes, and they have nothing to fear from these bills. My father, granddad and uncle were imminently responsible gun owners who would bristle at such implied victimhood.

The only people who should fear this legislation are adults who can’t  – or won’t – keep their weapons out of small children’s hands.

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Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis covered Virginia government and politics for 20 years for The Associated Press. Now retired from a public relations career at McGuireWoods, he is a columnist for the Virginia Mercury. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow on Mastodon: @[email protected]