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    Enough Already, We Need Stricter Gun Control

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer

    When this column goes to print, approximately 3 weeks will have passed since the horrific mass casualty shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and 2 weeks since a crazed gunman killed 5 people a mere 3.5 hours north of us in Rancho Tehama, California. While I “hope and pray” another mass casualty event does not happen between the time I submit this article and its publication, I’m fed up with prayers; it is time to demand action. Recent mass shootings have broken records with body counts increasing at each tragic and preventable event. Enough is enough. We need stricter gun laws.

    I have my own personal story about guns and shooting. I grew up in a bedroom community in Connecticut where kids played with BB and pellet guns. My father, aka the “Most Risk Averse Parent in the World,” did not allow me to have a pogo stick, skateboard or a mini-bike because he deemed those too dangerous, but a BB gun and eventually a .22 caliber rifle were considered safe (go figure). My father taught me shooting skills, gun safety and to never, ever point a gun at a person or any living being. I was not interested in hunting; I was too squeamish to shoot anything that would bleed and preferred to put well-placed holes in paper targets and blast away the occasional clay pigeon.

    I became extremely skilled at shooting a rifle, but unfortunately, I was not as skilled at shooting a basketball and suffered the defeat of being cut from the high school basketball team. The coach of the rifle team gave me the “one door closes, another one opens” speech and encouraged me to join the rifle team. She was thrilled to have a female on the team; especially one who could “shoot the eyes out of a fly at 50 feet.”

    The training was rigorous: we practiced 4 days a week and worked with specialized instructors on the weekends. I rapidly progressed through the NRA-administered program of marksmanship and achieved the rank of “Expert,” the highest rating for a high-school shooter. I was recruited by both the military and the top college shooting program in the U.S. and was invited to train with the women’s Olympic shooting team (damn that 1980 boycott!).

    I won multiple awards and received an offer from the NRA to be featured in their national publication, American Rifleman. While I was proud of my accomplishments, my political ideologies—and those of my parents—diverged wildly with the rhetoric of the NRA, and I declined their invitation to be the token “All-American Girl and Shooting Phenom.” My mother cut right to the chase: “What happened? They couldn’t find a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl from the Midwest?” After graduation, I hung up my rifle, and except for a few sporadic outings including one particularly successful day at an amusement park (when my eyesight was still perfect), I haven’t done any shooting since 1980.

    I loathe the NRA, but loved the sport of shooting. I enjoyed the camaraderie of my teammates and the thrill of competition. I am completely against big-game “sport hunting” (I’m looking at you, sons of Trump!) unless the animals are armed, thereby making it a fair fight. That would certainly cut down on senseless sport killing. While I did not hunt, I was surrounded by the hunting community, and learned that ducks are hunted with single action shotguns and deer are shot with long-range bolt-action rifles, never with automatic weapons.

    The NRA started out as a well-intentioned recreational program in 1871 to “promote and encourage rifle shooting.” It served shooters, not gun makers. In the mid-1970s, this changed. They formed a lobbying arm and PAC (political action committee), and became one of the most powerful special interest groups in the U.S. They spend approximately $250 million per year to influence members of Congress on gun policy. Don’t be fooled by the slick marketing—the NRA serves the gun industry and automatic weapons are gun makers’ most lucrative products.

    Automatic and semi-automatic weapons equipped with high-quantity magazines, such as the popular AR-15, are very good at one thing: shooting many humans rapidly. They are weapons of mass destruction and are not appropriate for hunting, personal protection or any civilian use. The standard caliber .223 bullet is not sufficient to stop a deer or large game, but it is very efficient against human targets.    

    More guns do not make the country safer. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Right to Bear Arms) made sense in 1791, but in the 21st Century we do not need a well-armed militia. How many more lives have to be shattered before we come to our senses and make these weapons illegal? Mourning the dead and consoling the families with thoughts and prayers do nothing to prevent future carnage.  

    Our elected officials must stop taking blood money from the NRA and start enacting stricter gun laws and more rigorous background checks. The only guns that should be legal are those used for recreational shooting or sensible hunting. There needs to be a limit on bullets sold and autoloaders must be banned. If hunters cannot bring down their game with a maximum 3-shell shotgun then they have no business hunting, and should play video games instead.

    I urge you to get involved and to tell our lawmakers that enough is enough. Join a group like “Moms Demand Action” (www.momsdemandaction.org) and “demand action from legislators, companies, and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms.”  

    It is time to turn those “thoughts and prayers” into action.

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a San Francisco Commissioner and has served in leadership positions in multiple non-profit and community based organizations.