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Community Perspective

A visionary path to responsible gun ownership

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The editorial in the FDNM last week about Alaskans not needing regulation and gun safety legislation was entirely wrong and written to rile gun owners and make them fearful. This was a tactic used by the NRA, not one for our local newspaper. Your scare tactics and rhetoric are not based on facts and following the footsteps of a major organization who has lost its way (NRA) is no positive step.

The facts are that no one is trying to take away your Second Amendment rights or your guns, the facts are that gun safety legislation is needed, and the Biden Administration is working on this. Local communities all around the country, including our own, are already working on improving gun safety and finding solutions by working together to solve problems not by dividing people with false premise.

Our local newspaper should be visionary, not reactionary. Labeling Alaska gun owners into one group is misguided. Alaska gun owners, especially law-abiding citizens, also care about gun safety, the accidental shooting deaths of minors, skyrocketing suicide rates, homicides, brandishing a weapon as intimidation, limiting access to assault rifles, removing guns from criminals or family members who have mental health issues or emergencies where firearms might be harmful to themselves or others, and being a good steward while hunting in the wilderness. Alaska gun owners also want gun safety legislation which is nowhere near your stated scare tactic of watch out or “they are going to take away your guns.”

Here are some facts to swallow before we go further:

• 93 percent of American voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales, including 89 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of gun owners. That includes Alaska.

• Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Alaska. In Alaska, an average of 22 children and teens die by guns every year.

• 61% of suicides in Alaska children and youth are caused by firearms.

• In an average year, 174 people die and 332 are wounded by guns in Alaska. Alaska has the fifth-highest rate of gun violence in the United States. Did you know Alaska has the highest rate of gun deaths in the country?

• In Alaska, the rate of gun deaths increased 19% from 2010 to 2019.

• In Alaska, 67% of gun deaths are suicides and 25% are homicides.

• Assault rifles were made for the mass killings of humans on a modern battlefield, not for hunting, not for recreation. They are a war weapon made for killing the most number of people in the shortest amount of time.

I would like to share some visionary successes in our community. These successes are now being looked at all over the state as a model of citizens working together to solve problems.

Local Fairbanks residents, the PTA, parents, the FNSB School District, the school board, the local police and state troopers, the Alaska Interior Marksmanship Committee and community members worked and communicated together to find solutions to distribute gun safety education information to every family in the school district yearly. They also work together to distribute fliers to families interested in gun safety workshops, rifle and firearm training and safety, hunting workshops for beginners or established hunters, and information on safe gun storage. They also distributed free gun locks to anyone that needed them to prevent unnecessary minor deaths in the household. These are pro-active solutions that also bring gun owners to the table to help solve problems. We need gun owners at the table to help solve these difficult issues, we must work together.

Editorials like the one published in the FDNM are purely inflammatory. I hope this is not the direction our new FDNM editorial board is going. Gun violence is a real issue, and we need more gun safety legislation to save lives. Finding people to work together is easy if communication about common ground is established and our community has shown it can work. Why not write an editorial on the good that is happening? We need less division not more, I hope the FDNM editorial board will consider being more visionary in the future.

Kate Wool is a concerned citizen and community member, parent and gun safety advocate.

Sources Gun deaths: CDC, WONDER, five-year average: 2015–2019. Gun violence trends: CDC, WONDER, 2010–2019. Gun injuries: Ted R. Miller and David Swedler, analysis of HCUP nonfatal injury: 2017. Cost of gun violence: Ted R. Miller, analysis of CDC fatal injury: 2018 and HCUP nonfatal injury: 2017. Suicides: CDC, WONDER, five-year average: 2015–2019. Homicides: CDC, WONDER, five-year average: 2015– 2019. Homicides include shootings by police. Gun suicide attempts/assaults: Ted R. Miller and David Swedler, analysis of HCUP nonfatal injury: 2017. Children/teen deaths: CDC, WONDER, five-year average: 2015–2019, ages 0–19; leading causes of death: CDC, WONDER, 2019, ages 1–19. Intimate partner homicides: FBI, Supplementary Homicide Report, five-year total: 2015–2019. “US Voters Oppose Trump Emergency Powers On Wall 2-1 Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; 86 Percent Back Democrats’ Bill On Gun Background Checks”. Quinnipiac University. (2019).

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