Even the slaughter of 20 elementary school kids (and six adults) at Sandy Hook elementary in December 2012 couldn’t jolt the nation into enacting common-sense gun-control measures. Sadly, it’s unlikely that the latest shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas — in which a troubled Iraq war veteran allegedly brought a handgun onto base and killed three people while wounding 16 — will move the needle in this bitter debate.
But the stalemate over gun control is no excuse for inaction when it comes to ensuring that firearms are used and stored responsibly — a key to keeping them out of the hands of those who would use them maliciously or recklessly. Despite the deep divide between gun-control advocates and opponents, there ought to be common ground on taking smaller, yet still meaningful steps to prevent future tragedies.
A welcome initiative by St. Paul-based Gander Mountain is a timely reminder that pragmatic ways to move forward do exist. The respected outdoor specialty retailer is continuing its year-old “firearms responsibility call to action” by giving away 50,000 trigger locks this weekend.
Customers who visit any of its 133 stores in 25 states will be given one of the locks if they take a pledge to secure their firearms. The retail value of each lock: about $10. The locks will work for all firearms, the retailer said.
While putting a trigger lock on a weapon is just one step needed to secure it, the store’s high-profile giveaway should kick-start conversations about keeping guns out of the hands of those who are underage, untrained and unauthorized. Gander Mountain executive Steve Uline said the goal is not simply to get trigger lock recipients to think about firearm security, but to have them “pass that challenge to friends and family.’’
Gander Mountain also has done admirable work raising firearm security awareness over the past year through social media and advertising; its leadership’s willingness to engage in a touchy debate is commendable. The retailer’s position — with rights come responsibilities — is something everyone should be able to agree on and, more important, act on.