Don’t Punish Law-Abiding Citizens

Community members console one another at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four days after the shooting, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Elan S. Carr, criminal prosecutor, military officer and Iraq War veteran

Like many public policy debates in our country today, the two sides of the gun control divide often delegitimize each other’s views. Now, in the wake of another mass murder of innocent children, we must come together to protect our communities while also protecting Americans’ right to bear arms.

As a law enforcement and military officer, I know something about guns. I have carried them, shot them and prosecuted many criminals for possessing them. Last month, I prosecuted a gang member for putting a gun to a student’s head during a robbery and threatening to murder him. In two weeks, I am scheduled to begin a capital murder trial in which the defendants are accused of executing a store clerk. In neither case did those defendants obtain their firearms legally; in fact, as convicted felons they were unable to purchase guns. Americans agree that we must keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

But laws that take away guns from law-abiding citizens would not have prevented these crimes.

If we seek and embrace our common ground, we can create policies that advance public safety while respecting lawful gun ownership. If we focus on our divisions, we shall do neither.  America’s children deserve better.