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Our View: 'Gun culture' has skidded from us

After Uvalde, there are, again, millions of takes on social media and in conversations across the country. Millions of emotions. Millions of reasons, searching for blame. A cry about just what is in us as a people that lets this happen time after time. This reaction to another shooting in America is exhausting, frightening and just so maddening.

How we respond is just as fractious as the divisions among us socially and politically.

Can we add to the mix? Maybe.

In the whole, there can seem little to say that will change gun culture in America. And when we say “gun culture,” we don’t mean that negatively. It would be great if “gun culture” meant what many of us in this part of the country want it to mean: generations of hunters who find great joy in the activity. Who pass down guns and hunting safety to children, who in turn learn to love the hunt as well. There’s even those who don’t hunt, who may own a gun just to take to the gun range. There are also those who want a gun for protection, and, we hope, have been trained on how to use it.

That is a “gun culture” most of us can probably understand.

But here’s the problem with the constant thrum of gun violence: It is changing perceptions about guns as a whole, and your definition, even one that is cogent and reasonable, is getting lost in death after death after death.

So we find it of utmost importance that those who most cherish the right to own a gun also take heed, and stop, what “gun culture” has come to mean. Simply, it means coming to agreement that some measures are needed, almost required, to stop events like those in Uvalde.

It’s up to you, gun owners. You know where the politicians on either side of the aisle stand. They are beholden to party and politics, which often means money. Were it true that they truly represent us, they would come up with meaningful solutions about the access and use of guns, especially the rapid-fire, multiple-round human killer models that are used so often in mass shootings.

We’ve heard often that firearms such as the AR-15 fall under the blanket of the Second Amendment. No exceptions. They are fun to shoot, and you don’t want to give that up. But after so many deaths, so much inflicted pain, can one really say that a weekend of shooting off these types of guns is “fun?” Is your right to that thrill worth the price we are paying? You see the faces: 19 children dead. Two teachers dead.

Imagine if our “car culture” suffered the same barrage. Say we never required seatbelts, stiff drunk driving laws, car safety advances, or, most recently, getting people to stop using cell phones while driving. It would be a free-for-all and the injurious carnage would surely lead to us trying to find some kind of effort to abate it.

There are myriad examples of changes made to our daily lives to make them safer. It’s the maddening aspect of this current crisis. We put up with the measures put in place in airports and on planes after Sept. 11, 2001. Our teachers and students surely know of the measures in their schools to block that which is no longer an abstract notion, that someone will try to come into their building and shoot them. That fact alone, with the thought that today’s seniors not only bless themselves for surviving a difficult pandemic but also for avoiding a school shooting, is heartbreaking.

We have to do better. We have to have the conversations. And we have to let those in power, who have the ability to create and change laws, know that we will no longer put up with this new definition of guns in America. Everyone is in this. And everyone must keep an open mind on how we can stop the killing.

We can, together, redefine who we are and who and what we are willing to sacrifice.

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