October 31, 2014

Oak Creek reopens gun debate

Do we need more gun laws? The horrific mass shootings in Oak Creek and Aurora, Colorado have led to renewed calls for action, from gun control advocates, while self-defense supporters disagree. Jeri Bonavia with Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort said “it’s past time” to enact sensible gun control reforms. “We know by looking at every other high-income in the world that we don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to tolerate gun violence as a normal part of everyday life; we’ve just chosen to do so. That’s a shame. It’s horrible that we put up with these events.”

But a gun rights advocate believes stricter gun laws are not a way to prevent incidents like the Sikh temple shootings in Oak Creek. Nik Clark, chairman of Wisconsin Carry, Incorporated, said that people should grasp that evil exists and individuals should be ready to arm themselves. “While I think it’s unrealistic to expect that banning guns is going to occur, or that we’d ever be able to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, I think it is realistic that law-abiding citizens could obtain their concealed weapons license and carry for their own self-defense, and do a good job of defending themselves,” Clark said.

WAVE’s Bonavia said imposing restrictions on people with a history of violence from owning firearms, and close the so-called “gun show loophole,” are measures that many people can agree on. But she said politicians have demonstrated a failure to lead when it comes to gun control. “Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the politicians have really run away from this issue, believing that they need to appease the NRA,” she said. “It’s time that our politicians start aligning themselves with the vast majority of people, instead of a powerful lobby.”

“Unless you’re talking about banning even hunting guns and rifles, you’re not going to prevent madmen from having access to weapons of great destruction,” said Clark. He said the Oak Creek Sikh temple incident should be an eye opener, that people should be ready to defend themselves, including legally carrying a concealed weapon. “The unfortunate reality that people have to grasp is, evil exists. You can’t prevent it in all circumstances, you can’t predict it in all circumstances. The one thing you have control of is yourself, and your own self-protection is something we hope people take seriously.”

“There are some really easy things that we could be doing, that would not alter our ability to own and carry guns,” said Bonavia. “What we have chosen to do instead is to just go the opposite direction, make it as easy as possible for absolutely anyone to get a gun in our country.”

WRN’s Brian Moon contributed to this report