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One liberal's opinion on gun violence in the US

Co-founder and CEO of MissionBox, founder and president of MissionBox Philanthropic Fund, founder and past CEO of Community TechKnowledge. Kathryn has more than 25 years in the nonprofit service arena, first as a direct service provider with adults living with mental illness and later as an executive director of nonprofits in the areas of substance abuse treatment, child abuse prevention, and grief and loss support.

I am experiencing a deep despair and fury about gun violence in the U.S.

I am through with debate and want action and solutions to the truly unspeakably violent acts perpetrated by deranged individuals with unfettered access to nearly every type of gun, including guns that cannot possibly be classified as self-protective or for hunting purposes. I hold a strong desire to see an immediate change in the availability of guns, where guns can be purchased and stricter background checks and screening. It seems that discussion of this issue has been lost amid the flurry of competing current events such as the sexual harassment outcries and Michael Flynn’s guilty plea.

I've always thought that most nonprofits were staffed by liberals. I also assumed that most nonprofits leaned toward a bias for gun control legislation, especially in the wake of the multiple, tragic gun-related slaughter of innocents we’ve experienced in the U.S. in just the last several months.

But realistically it's wrong to expect that all nonprofits are staffed with liberals. In any case, “liberal" doesn’t necessarily mean pro-gun control. I don’t think this is an issue of who is liberal or conservative or if they work in a for-profit or nonprofit.

I hear conversations in nonprofits debating the pros and cons of reasonable gun control. I’ve met plenty of open-minded, nonprofit folks who feel that the Second Amendment is a valid reflection of our constitutional framers’ belief that the right to bear arms is key to sustaining our democracy, which is a contradiction to me. Most nonprofit employees and volunteers are deeply committed to social good. How do sloppy and loose restrictions on who can buy guns have any possible connection to promoting social good? I ask myself "if those of us in the business of helping others don’t take a stand, who will?"

In fact, there has historically been much debate on the interpretation of the two clauses of the Second Amendment and many scholars believe there is ample room for setting some controls.

The U.S. Constitution was written when the muzzle-loading smoothbore musket was one of the most commonly used firearms. It was used to fire a single shot ball, or a cluster style shot giving the weapon a "shotgun" effect. The muskets were bulky and had a lengthy reloading time. A British soldier with a bayonet could kill faster than an individual with a musket.

No one in 1791 could remotely imagine the lethal power of the guns used by the young Sandy Hook Elementary School executioner of children and teachers: a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, a 10mm Glock 20SF handgun, and a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 handgun; and Las Vegas, where the destroyer had access to an alarming arsenal of 23 weapons and accessories, including semiautomatic rifles, scopes and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

I doubt that James Madison, a signer of the Constitution and proponent of the Second Amendment, would have thought it was a great idea to hand these off-the-chain massacre machines to anyone, much less the mentally ill, individuals with criminal histories or disaffected terrorists — all bent on the extermination of anyone, of any age.

The National Rifle Association has a vise-grip hold on our government when it comes to changing gun laws to provide additional protection from evil or mental illness. They are a powerful, rich and relentless lobbying force. It is time to counter their toxic influence with our elected representatives in government with gun-control advocacy efforts and our votes.

The Charlton Heston quote that NRA fans are so proud of: "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" holds a profound irony. Charlton was alive and well when he made this inflammatory statement. The dead of Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas no longer have a voice because they no longer have a life. Their cold, dead hands cannot hug a loved-one, make a meal for their family, create art or pursue their work, much less hold a gun. If we could speak to them from their graves, I wonder if they would agree that their liberty has been protected by a complacent, NRA-funded government that is unwilling to look at the realities of 2017, rather than those of 1791.

MissionBox welcomes reader feedback and responses. Email us at editorial@missionbox.com and let us know what you think!

Readers respond

Elizabeth B says ... It's an epidemic that kills more than 90 fellow Americans every day. An epidemic that, in 2017, included two of the worst mass shootings in modern history — at a concert in Las Vegas and a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. These deaths ARE preventable. Lives CAN be saved.

That's why Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action are fighting every day to prevent gun violence. I joined this movement as a mom and a concerned American, to add my voice to the growing chorus demanding gun safety and sensible solutions to the tragic epidemic of gun violence facing our country.

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Co-founder and CEO of MissionBox, founder and president of MissionBox Philanthropic Fund, founder and past CEO of Community TechKnowledge