To the Editor:
I challenge The Smoky Mountain News to assist in opening a respectful, thoughtful, meaningful conversation in our region about gun policies in the United States. Give us credible, objective statistics relating to gun policies and violence, in this country and others. I realize this is a touchy subject, with hunting so ingrained in our culture here in Western North Carolina. However, The Smoky Mountain News is no stranger to controversy. I remember when you provided us with in-depth reporting about the Haywood hospital, even when it meant loss of advertisement revenue.
In particular, I would like to read your interviews with ordinary people, not spokesmen or politicians, about how a ban on military-type assault weapons and limiting the size of ammunition clips would infringe on hunting rights. I would also like to hear how closing the gun-show background check loophole to reduce the likelihood of criminals and mentally unstable people obtaining guns would infringe.
I have seen proposals of a small tax on gun and ammunition purchases to fund our mental health system, which has been subject to budget cut after budget cut, so that interventions may be made to protect us from unstable people with guns. Funding could also be obtained this way for more law enforcement officers to protect our schools. How do people in the community feel about this?
Lastly, I would like to hear from citizens their solutions for reducing the incident of tragedies such as which occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Is it too much to hope that we can come to some consensus to present to our legislators?