When not to shoot from the hip

My father was proud of his gun collection. When my parents added a family room to the house, he had lighted glass cases built in around the stone fireplace to display the guns.

Not surprisingly, he was a member of the National Rifle Association and we didn’t have the same opinions about gun control. But he also served as a city police commissioner and police chiefs were among those advocating for the July 22 defeat of an amendment proposed by U.S. Senator John Thune, R-S.D.

So I believe he might have opposed this NRA-backed legislation, which would have allowed residents of states that permit people to carry loaded, concealed weapons to do so anywhere – regardless of restrictions in other states.

Jackie Kuhls, a board member and former executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, explained to me that while supporters claimed the amendment would pose no danger, the opposite was true. “In fact, the amendment would have reduced the permit requirements to the lowest common denominator of the weakest states’ laws,” she said. “Some states allow even individuals with a violent past to hold a conceal/carry permit.”

The United Methodist Church is quite clear about the need to strictly regulate guns. The denomination’s official position on gun violence, as outlined in the 2008 Book of Resolutions, urges church members to advocate “for the eventual reduction of the availability of guns in society, with a particular emphasis upon handguns, handgun ammunition, assault weapons, automatic weapons, automatic weapon conversion kits and guns that cannot be detected by traditionally used metal detection devices.”

The church also supports federal legislation “to regulate the importation, manufacturing, sale and possessions of guns and ammunition by the general public,” covering such areas as registration and licensing, appropriate background checks and waiting periods before a gun can be purchased.

Congress hasn’t been doing a very good job of that lately – witness the lapse of the assault weapons ban in 2004 – but at least enough senators recognized that the Thune Amendment just didn’t make sense.

The defeat of the Thune Amendment will save lives. I think my father would have agreed.

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