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Merritt: Time for compromise and sensible solutions on gun debate

My mother’s saying, “Good things sometimes come out of the bad,” has left me struggling. Lately, I’ve been seeing too many bad things and for the life of me, I’m finding it harder to discover the good.

Maybe it’s my age because — let’s face it — through the years, I’ve seen plenty. Perhaps my tired brain has processed too many negative charges, producing cynicism instead of my normal see-the-glass-half-full attitude.

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We’re surrounded by instantaneous news alerting us to such things as more killings in Baltimore, horrific floods and fires across the country, instances of road rage and a mentally ill patient being released and deposited on a curbside with no place to go.

Foremost in my brain, and probably yours as well, is the Valentine’s Day tragedy involving the shootings in Parkland, Florida. Right now, I’ve stopped typing in the middle of a sentence because — frankly — I’m at a loss for words. I keep searching.

Words, words and more words have been spoken on both sides (and often barely heard) regarding the Second Amendment and gun control. We’ve listened to politicians, the NRA, parents, pastors, teachers, and even the traumatized students themselves, who bravely stood up on national TV to express their frustration and sorrow.

Some of the words from the supporters of the Second Amendment are “constitution,” “rights,” “protection,” and “defense.”

Their arguments: “The Second Amendment gives us the right to protect ourselves;” “Shootings are committed by people, not guns;” “It’s my right to own whatever gun I choose;” “Let’s arm our teachers to protect their students;” “Banning assault weapons does not prevent criminals from getting their hands on guns.”

Words from gun control advocates include some of the same — "constitution,” “rights,” “protection” and “defense.”

Their arguments: “We have a right to feel safe;” “Without guns, there can be no shooters;” “Assault weapons and magazines are meant for warfare, not recreation;” “Teachers should teach without having the added responsibility of carrying a gun;” “We need stricter gun laws.”

Both sides are passionate; neither side can agree with the other. So, what do we do now?

For me, I’m doubtful that our leaders will fix things. Generally, I can see both sides of an issue. But, on occasion, I admit that I’m a coward when expressing my opinion on a controversial subject. I avoid certain topics among company — outside of my family and close friends — who I know disagree.

Today, my conscience tells me, “Not this time.”

I believe in the right for responsible adults to own a gun, be it for protection or for recreation.

I do not believe, however, that everyone should have such easy access to own one, especially the mentally ill and criminals, though neither side wants to see a gun in such people’s hands.

The fighting begins when we talk about gun restrictions.

As a mother and grandmother, and surely with every citizen in the country as well, I’m appalled at the innumerable school shootings that have occurred since the unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. I didn’t think anything like that would happen ever again. But it has — many times over.

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You can read statistics, comparing the U.S. mass shootings and other homicides from guns with those in other countries which have stricter gun laws. Our numbers far exceed theirs.

In a Washington Post article written by Melissa Etehad in 2016, titled, “Stricter Control—Decrease in Mass Shootings,” it was stated that the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia enacted stricter gun laws after their tragedies and that death rates in all three countries declined markedly.

As I write this article, I’m waiting to hear from our leaders about what steps will be taken to reduce the number of so many killings. It’s not going to be easy but saving lives should be worth every ounce of their efforts. (As for those congressmen who got elected with the financial help of the NRA and are putting their careers ahead of this issue, shame on them.)

Compromise is the key and I’m praying that each side will be willing to listen to the other and work out a solution. On one thing we can all agree: no one wants more deaths to occur.

Enough is enough.

Perhaps with this in mind and the Easter season upon us, the promise of new life and new beginnings will instill in all of us — especially our leaders — a sense of freshness and a strong willingness to put an end to these ongoing tragedies.

And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll begin to see the glass half-full again.

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