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There must be a solution – Our view: Gun law reform long overdue

A few weeks ago, we asked people in one of our highly unscientific opinion polls if in the wake of the latest mass shootings the time had come for some form or gun control.
The options for people responding to the poll were “yes,” “no” and “It depends on the proposal.” We disagree with the majority of the respondents to our poll. Yes, the time for some form of gun control has arrived.
We already have some level of gun control in the form of background checks at federally licensed dealers, age-21 restrictions in some states, ownership restrictions on felons and convicted domestic abusers and the like. They vary by state. The big hole in the point-of-sale regulatory framework appears to be no background checks for private sellers at gun shows and unregulated online sales.
Whatever the fix is, it must be well-reasoned, balanced and practical, a solution based on reasonable compromise. A proposal that goes too far won’t see the light of day in a political landscape where gun lobbyists carry too much influence with our elected representatives. No reasonable proposal wants to make hunting rifles or handguns, carried by mentally healthy people, illegal. People have a right to own and carry guns for hunting and self-defense.
Saturday, Aug. 31, a gunman armed with an assault-style rifle murdered seven innocent people. His rampage in west Texas apparently started when a police officer, reportedly doing his job, apparently tried to pull the man over for not signaling a turn. News reports said the man was armed with an assault-style rifle.
There have been too many mass killings of late. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 279 mass shooting incidents have occurred as of Aug. 31, the 243rd day of the year. What more does someone need as evidence of needed change?
While they can be used for hunting, assault rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 are primarily used today as anti-personnel weapons. They are very good at killing people, primarily soldiers. They are fed by high-capacity magazines and can fire up to 800 rounds per minute. These are not hunting rifles.
The time for lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum to earnestly begin crafting legislation to control who can legally buy and carry weapons and who should be allowed to keep weapons is long overdue.
We are not suggesting or supporting any sort of radical confiscation of most firearms properly acquired by people in stable mental health. But times have changed. Assault rifles have no place on our streets, in our parks, school grounds or neighborhoods. People in a grocery store shopping for themselves or their families should not fear slaughter by a person armed with a weapon primarily intended to kill other armed combatants.
A person posted on The Chronicle’s Facebook page noted gun control makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens. Our laws are intended to protect innocent people, the vast majority of us all, from criminals.
The solution to the gun control debate will be crafted in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul. It is time for reasonable, compromise-based reform.
-jm