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Monday, April 23, 2007

Healing Words and Leadership from Chap Petersen

For one of the most balanced, compassionate posts about the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech and what possible next steps we can take, go here to Chap Peterson's Ox Road South blog.

Chap struck the right note of balance, respect for all points of view and multiple approaches in a serious discussion that has to take place. It's no longer possible to shout past each other and try to score ideological points off each other. People have to begin feeling their way gently and with compassion and try to find ways to prevent further tragedies. We need the humility to realize that we will never be able to prevent every horrific event but we also need the courage and political will to learn from this tragedy and improve the lives and safety of all Virginians.

And there is no one panacea. First, we do have to respect the rights of law abiding citizens who own guns. Chap reminds his readers that he is one of them. But he comes up with a couple of common sense suggestions such as better accessibility to mental health treatement, a more stringent database that would prevent somebody as severely mentally ill as Seung Hui Cho from being able to buy guns. This something that already is in the law but loopholes in that law made it possible for Cho to still gain access to deadly weapons. We can tighten those loopholes while still protecting legitimate privacy rights of our citizens and the rights of gun owners.

Finally, Chap says that high capacity gun magazines are not appropriate for civilian gun owners. They had been outlawed until 2004, when Congress let the ban on semi-automatic weapons expire.

In his writing, Chap has proved himself a leader willing to step up and take a principled stand that is courageous, compassionate and respectful. I applaud him for it and urge you to read his own words.

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