Gun violence should be national health emergency

I appreciated the courage that you had in running the editorial titled “It Happened Yet Again” on the first page of the Feb. 17 Shawano Leader. For too long, the gun industry has spent millions buying politicians and using fear and misinformation to suppress common sense changes in our gun laws. Gun violence should be viewed as a national health emergency, and the CDC should have been permitted to study this issue. Insight from research could help craft possible changes to our gun laws, and develop solutions to this problem. However, the Republican-controlled Congress has prevented the CDC from doing this. You only ban research in an area when you are afraid of what may be found. Many of these same politicians want to write this off as a mental health issue, yet they have long opposed developing a fully funded national health care system that could begin to address this aspect of the problem. Mental health service remains difficult to obtain in most areas if you have insurance, and are almost impossible to access if you are uninsured.

If they truly cared about the average gun owner, the NRA would be willing to sit down and work on common sense changes which may ban certain weapons, yet preserve access to the firearms that are traditionally used for hunting. You do not need a semiautomatic weapon with a 30-shot clip to hunt or target shoot. Everyone should have to undergo a background check to purchase a firearm without any exceptions. No one needs a bump stock or a magazine that holds more than 5-10 shells. There is absolutely no reason that anyone needs a military-style assault weapon unless they intend to kill other people. I have been a hunter all my life. I’ve never had a problem with only being able to have three shells in a shotgun to hunt ducks and similar restrictions for deer and small game hunting would not be that unreasonable.

However, I found it disappointing that the same issue of the Leader had advertisements for Fleet Farm and Dunham’s that included assault-style weapons. Until we elect politicians that are not owned by the gun lobby, we need to start acting. We need to be willing to boycott stores that sell assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines. I urge publications such as this to decline advertising dollars from these retailers as well until they no longer sell military style semiautomatic weapons and accessories.

Joseph Guenther, MD