As someone who learned to hunt wild game at my father’s elbow, and who continues to prowl after wild turkeys, quail and elk at the age of 93, two things about guns are crystal clear to me. First, I maintain strong passions for firearms and the outdoors and, just as importantly, a healthy respect for both. But second, in the face of a seemingly daily barrage of mass shootings like the recent one in Allen, Texas, it is evident our country is suffering a tragic epidemic of gun violence that has veered out of control.
The numbers are overwhelming. At a time when modern medicine is finding ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and other causes of death, our nation is experiencing an upward spiral in firearm fatalities. Since 2000, such deaths have increased by 55 percent to 44,310 last year. The toll of American civilians who have suffered gun-related deaths during the past 50 years is more than the 1.35 million U.S. soldiers who died during all our wars combined.