Craig Speaks About the Issues of Violence and Gun Rights Facing Our Nation

Our nation is in a very difficult moment. People are divided. Answers to tough questions seem hard to come by. Especially surrounding guns in America. Over the years, I’ve gone to my small family farm when I need to think about tough issues. I did that this past weekend.

I got up early Sunday morning, walked around outside, and recalled many memories on this land involving guns. I walked by the lake where I used to shoot frogs with my Mossberg .22 bolt action rifle (I still have it). For several years, I harvested more than a hundred frogs from that lake to set the stage for a New Year's Day family frog leg feast. I walked the hedge row fence where I shot my first quail with my .410/.22 over/under. I recalled the sobering and heartbreaking day we had to put down a cow in distress with my father's Browning Sweet 16 (still a prized possession). It had to be done fast, and we had no other way. I remembered fondly the family weekends in recent years when we spent hours shooting targets with hand guns and rifles and sporting clays with shotguns. The kids would bring friends for the weekend, and we taught some how to shoot, and how to safely handle guns. And then later on Sunday morning, I recorded this video to communicate my thinking.

Guns are an issue dividing our country. The issue is pushing us further into tribes while no one seems to be able to bring us together toward real solutions.

The extreme left too often demonizes people for even proper and legal exercise of Second Amendment rights. Law abiding gun owners deserve our respect. They are good people.

The extreme right exacerbates the divide. They resist even the most common sense regulations relating to firearms ownership and use, including those strongly supported by a majority of Americans. We must move past this cultural divide.

The issue of gun violence in our country is like most of our issues. It is complex, and there are no simple solutions. No single action will end school or other mass shootings. Development of an effective background check system, modifications of mental health privacy laws, and a close look at what we should require of people who seek to own and operate firearms (as we do with motor vehicles), are all issues to be considered. The issue of assault rifles in civilian society is a more narrow issue. It is not legal for civilians to purchase or possess an M16, for good reason. The same rationale should apply to other assault rifles. We need a public discussion and resolution of this issue, and the millions of dollars donated to elected leaders in Washington should not be allowed to suppress the discussion.

As a gun owner and strong supporter of second amendment rights, I have concluded that the presence of assault rifles in American civilian life is not a second amendment issue. It is a common sense, pro-life, and public safety issue. I own one of these weapons. Sure, it is fun to shoot. But Presidents Reagan and Ford supported the 1994 assault rifle ban for sound reasons. Any gun can kill. But assault rifles (and AR-15s specifically) are particularly adept at wreaking human carnage very quickly. The resulting devastation on our society outweighs second amendment protections for law abiding gun owners.
Those of us who care about BOTH the right to bear arms AND the importance of public safety and common sense regulation of firearms must lead on this issue. So today I’m declaring my support to renew a responsible ban on assault rifles and large capacity magazines. It’s time. I believe it’s the right thing to do, and I’m calling on my fellow gun owners and second amendment supporters to join me in leading the way to a safer future for our nation.

Craig O'Dear for U.S. Senate