By Anyssa Roberts | @KyKernel.com
Craig R. Whitney, author of “Living With Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment” spoke Thursday night at the Taylor Education Building about gun violence, gun control and his solution to the problem.
“Living With Guns” is Whitney’s latest book, released in November. The book talks about gun violence stemming back to the passing of the Second Amendment.
Whitney worked as a reporter and editor of standards and ethics for The New York Times until his retirement in 2009. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in the Vietnam War.
Whitney is a member of the National Rifle Association and a self-confessed liberal, but encourages those advocating for stricter gun laws to speak up.
“It is time for those who are against the NRA to speak their minds. Americans who advocate can convince gun owners,” Whitney said.
Americans own as many as 300 million guns, and about 30,000 Americans die from gunshots every year, he said.
Whitney said more than half of the number of gun-related deaths are suicides, but a large number of those deaths are because of hand weapons rather than assault weapons.
Despite Congress’ attempts to regulate assault weapons, Whitney said deaths more related to long guns are in rural areas where shotguns are more common over handguns.
Whitney’s solution to the issue of guns asks politicians and NRA members to compromise and meet in the middle to resolve the issue of loopholes in background checks, as well as the amount of magazines allowed in guns.
“It is time for politicians to reach across the divide to solve the issue of gun violence,” Whitney said. “If Congress does not pass legislation to close that background check loophole they should be ashamed of themselves. What the NRA has been saying about that to its members is ‘We have to fight this.’ ”
Whitney recognized the origins of the right to bear arms as an important guarantee that the federal government could not use a standing federal army to impose over the states, state militias or individual Americans.
“The right existed in common law since John Smith. All Americans should be encouraged to recognize that gun ownership is a right, but that gun owners still have a civic duty,” Whitney said. “The Second Amendment does not protect people from public safety.”
The Columbine High School and Aurora, Colo., shootings raised the question of gun control, but none have been as influential recently as the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“After Newtown, people began to look at gun regulations seriously, but keeping guns out of the hands of as many law-abiding Americans as possible does not keep them out of the hands of criminals,” Whitney said. “The people who perpetrate gun violence are not law-abiding people.”
Whitney said that in his book, “Living With Guns,” the ideas he proposes are similar to those in the package of legislative and executive measures proposed by President Barack Obama after the Newtown massacre.
His ideas include fixing loopholes in background checks and working with inner-city youth to educate them on gun control.
“They have people talk to youth in inner cities like Washington, D.C., and Chicago to educate the youth who may be involved in gangs or gun violence, and that has had some affect,” Whitney said.
Those in attendance had the opportunity to talk with Whitney about his opinion on gun laws and regulations. Among those in the audience were Mort Hoaglan and his wife.
“I was disappointed tonight. I think he is too soft on the issue,” Hoaglan said.
Hoaglan referenced other civic issues like women’s rights and desegregation, and the positive impact change on those issues made in society despite those who continued to disagree.
“I think the issue is difficult now, but in 50 years people would really appreciate it,” Hoaglan said.
For more information about Craig Whitney and “Living With Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment,” visit craigrwhitney.com.