Guest column: What is ‘common sense’ gun control anyway?

As a gun owner, I’m afraid I don’t understand what people mean by ‘common sense’ gun control — so please enlighten me, writes Ashley Kaye Nelson.

In October of last year, I was living in the beautiful and busy city of Las Vegas. I put my sweet 3-month-old baby to bed and woke in the morning to find that tragdy had struck our beautiful city.

In the midst of this tragedy, I was honored to be part of a city that was filled with so many good Samaritans. So many people in the area pulled together to help. There was beauty in the tragedy.

Then gun control advocates struck with their shouts of, “It’s time for gun control!” and “We need stricter background checks!” and “No one needs to have a gun!” and my personal favorite “It’s time for common sense gun control laws!”

Eventually all this ruckus calmed down and it seems Las Vegas’ tragedy was forgotten except by those of us who lived there.

In the beginning of January, my little family and I moved from that bustling metropolis to Shelley. In February another tragedy struck, this time in Parkland, Fla.

I cried as I read about the heroics of the JROTC students. I cried as I read students accounts and I cried as I read about parents who would never see their babies again. Then I grew angry as I read about the failings of the resource officer, the Broward County Sherriff’s Department and the FBI. This, I thought, is something to be angry about. This was a preventable tragedy.

But to my surprise, no one is talking about that. The FBI got a literal tip with the shooter’s name on it, and did nothing. The Sherriff’s Department was told multiple times by relatives that they feared the shooter and that his weapons should be taken away. The armed resource officer whose job is literally to protect the students stayed outside the building rather than face the shooter. Deaths could have been prevented if any one of these organizations had done their jobs. And you want to talk about “common sense gun control”?

All right then. I’m willing to listen. What is this “common sense gun control” you think we should have? Is it the banning of all guns in the U.S.? Is it the banning of semi-automatic guns? Is it stricter background checks?

First, banning all guns is far from common sense. You can’t ban guns in a nation whose Bill of Rights protects its citizens from having their weapons taken away. You try taking guns away and you will have all 12 million gun-toting Americans fighting back.

Next is banning semi-automatic guns. At what level of gun are you going to start those bans? Handguns are semi-automatic, as are some rifles. Semi-automatic means that the gun loads the next round automatically. It does not mean that if I hold the trigger down the gun shoots all the rounds out.

My husband owns an AR-15 that we purchased in order to defend our large property in rural Nevada from coyotes. When we go camping in the mountains, we bring it with us in case of bears, mountain lions or coyotes. It is a very useful weapon for self-defense. Are you saying that you are going to take that protection away from law-abiding citizens? From hunters looking for meat for their family? From farmers protecting their property from wolves and coyotes? I can’t really see the sense in that.

Finally, we have stricter background checks. Have you ever purchased a gun? The amount of information they require from you is immense. It takes a great deal of time to purchase any gun. When my husband wanted to buy his AR-15, we realized as we were filling out the paperwork that he had failed to update his address after we moved. We asked the store if we could still purchase the gun. No. He would not let us even finish filling out the paperwork. When we finally got his license corrected, the paperwork filled out, the background check complete, I almost blew the whole sale by trying to pay for the gun with my credit card. It’s illegal to register the gun under one name and buy it under another. This is to stop people who can’t legally own a gun from getting one.

So what does “common sense gun laws” really mean then? Please educate me. I’ll wait.


Nelson is a mother, educator and artist. She loves spending her time outdoors hiking, fishing and camping with her family.


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