Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

January 24, 2013

Locals weigh in on gun debate


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE



More than a month after a deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, individual citizens and legislators alike continue to discuss measures that might prevent such tragedies in the future.

A bipartisan proposal presented Tuesday to the Texas State Legislature would allow local schools to set up special taxing districts to raise money for security, provided voters support the measure.

Local residents were divided on which actions, if any, government should take to promote safety in schools and in general society.

Local Vietnam War veteran and gun rights activist Gene Long said he doesn't necessarily believe all schools should have armed security, though he feels every school should be vigilant in providing a safe environment.

"Armed guards at the school is not the solution," he said. "I'm thinking an aggressive attitude; lock all the doors but one."

Other residents, including Becky Plumlee, noted the cause of gun violence is the same as any crime – an intentional act by an individual.

"Guns are not the problem," she said. "I don't know how to solve it; it's people. Guns don't shoot themselves."

She said individuals capable of committing multiple murders obviously have underlying problems that should be addressed, though she admitted that is a difficult proposition.

When an individual displays unusual behavior, Plumlee said it could be a sign of a deeper issue or just a harmless personality trait.

"Do you just start jumping on them?" she asked.

Long pointed out information compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showing guns are not among the top tools used to kill in America.

"More people are killed by hammers," he said, adding far more still are killed by someone else's bare hands.

He said legislators quick to call for gun control are missing the big picture.

Gun-free zones are merely an invitation to those inclined to commit gun violence, Long added.

"They attack where we're most vulnerable," he said, noting no law will stop all violence from a group he collectively referred to as "nuts."

Identifying and dealing with underlying mental and emotional problems is a good step, he said, but limiting law-abiding citizens' access to guns will only exacerbate the problem.

"You can't legislate nuts," he said. "We need to listen to them, maybe."

Linda Driscoll said she supports the reasoning behind certain aspects of recent gun control proposals.

"I don't agree with the [use of] extended clips," she said. "I agree with background checks."

She said she supports responsible gun ownership and doesn't believe any of the current discussion will result in any infringement on the constitutionally protected right to bear arms.

"I really don't think they're going to bother it," she said. "Both sides are trying to talk over each other."

Driscoll said there is blame to go around, noting much of today's entertainment contributes to a violent culture.

"Some of the video games are bad," she said. "I think it desensitizes them."

Plumlee compared banning guns to ineffective drug laws, noting, "If you make it illegal, only criminals will have it anyway."

Among lawmakers, as in the public square, debate on this issue will undoubtedly continue as all involved hope to prevent gun-related tragedies.

In response to a shooting Tuesday at a Houston-area community college, State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, introduced a bill Wednesday to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons into college buildings. A similar measure failed to pass in 2011.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, said the shooter in that incident could have easily turned the gun on other students. She said if that happens, other students should be allowed to defend themselves.



The Associated Press contributed to this article.