By Joseph Ford Cotto
Most of us, regardless of our personal beliefs about gun control, want to build a safer and more prosperous nation. Standing on that common ground, we should address a common misperception.
Quite often, Second Amendment hardliners — politicians, pundits, and ordinary folks alike — give the impression that those who support firearm regulations do not identify with this country's rich heritage.
The hardliners seem to believe that opposing the unrestricted manufacturing and sale of guns is suspect if one wishes to be considered a true-blue American.
The fact that so many in our society distrust or dislike those who are not fundamentalists about the Second Amendment is very troubling. There is no valid reason for political disagreements to create such a massive divide.
It bears repeating that each of us can get along well with those around us if we respect each other's views.
An integral element of said respect is recognizing that millions do support gun control out of a sincere devotion to this country's well-being. Common sense as they see it tells them that the fewer privately owned firearms there are, the less gun-related crime there will be.
Of course, the right to keep and bear arms must not be ignored or infringed. Decent, responsible people from coast to coast own guns. Whether for self-defense or sport shooting, they use their guns legally and safely.
In what civil society, though, is the private possession of assault weapons necessary?
Gun control proponents do not see the value in allowing people to stockpile high-capacity ammunition clips and magazines, and their understanding of the Second Amendment does not lead them to believe that this is a constitutionally protected right.
Simply by stating what seems to them obvious, people who support gun control become subject to smears and absurd allegations by those who see a different version of the obvious.
The position of this column is that legislation at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels will tackle the dangers of assault weapons. Others will disagree.
However this debate resolves, if we respect each other's views and understand that intelligent people of good will can disagree with us, our country will be more unified. That kind of tolerance is hard to come by in today's political environment, however.
If those opposed to gun control would simply realize that the other side includes a lot of patriots, they would score a major victory for political moderation. Then, we could all appreciate and sensibly discuss the myriad of issues facing America's future.
This sounds like a win-win for everybody.