Editorial Cartoon

By Jeff Vanderbeck

Appalachian Newspapers

Regardless of where your individual beliefs on guns lie, the message being sent by both local governmental agencies and a great number of local residents recently is that the general sentiment is against further restrictions on the ownership of firearms.

Our own unscientific polling, conducted on our Facebook page and website, indicates that, out of the more than 1,000 people who cast a vote, more than 90 percent were in support of the Pike County Fiscal Court passing a resolution declaring Pike County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Dozens of other Kentucky counties have done the same.

People care passionately about this issue, as evidenced by the turnouts for meetings held in Pike, Floyd, Johnson and Letcher counties locally, in which those counties’ governing bodies unanimously passed the “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions.

In Pike County, the turnout for the meeting was so great that some weren’t even able to come into the fiscal courtroom.

However, all these meetings already held have also shared another common trait — they went off without a hitch. There was no violence, no firearms were drawn, no threats were made. Instead, those who are advocating against new restrictions on gun ownership had their say, those governing bodies agreed and both parties went home satisfied.

In neighboring Virginia, where new gun restrictions have been proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam, there were concerns that a rally currently set for Monday at the state Capitol in Richmond may not go as well.

There are few issues about which the beliefs, both for and against, are so deeply-held and passionately-defended.

Regardless of what happened, or didn’t happen, in Virginia, we would recommend that any discussion of firearms ownership or laws which occurs at the state level in Kentucky take into account the will of the people.

We would say that, especially considering the local displays of sentiment, that the people in Eastern Kentucky are not likely to accept any proposals, such as those being discussed in Virginia. Lawmakers are elected to do the will of the people and these “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions would seem to send the message that the will of the people is not in favor of change on this matter at this time.

One of the keys to ensuring that there is little basis for expansion of gun laws in Kentucky is simply responsible gun ownership. The vast majority of those who own guns, either for sport or personal protection, in our communities in Eastern Kentucky, are just that — responsible.

They ensure that their guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, they ensure they’re trained or at least practiced in using their firearms, they use their weapons responsibly.

Firearms dealers must conduct themselves responsibly, following the laws and regulations that are in place without shortcuts or exceptions.

Sure, there are outliers — those who don’t do the right thing with firearms, but, at least locally, those tend to be a very small minority. Punishing the majority for the lack of personal responsibility by some and bad actions by others wouldn’t seem to be the proper way to go about dealing with the overall problem of violence.

Some restrictive measures have already been filed and some are proposed, but we would question, at this point, whether these measures are solutions in search of a problem and not the other way around — which should never be the basis for legislation.

There’s definitely still room for discussion on this matter, but there’s not a sentiment welcoming to change at this point. The people have spoken, and it’s clear they want the government to keep its hands off their guns.

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