Editorial: Gun ownership a complicated discussion

  • By Peninsula Clarion Editorial
  • Sunday, April 29, 2018 10:34am
  • Opinion

This past week, the Peninsula Clarion reported on a survey that examined attitudes toward gun ownership in Alaska. That story, and its posting on social media, has not surprisingly generated a great deal of discussion and debate.

When it comes to a topic that can be intimidating — like gun ownership — we think a public discussion is a good thing.

Gun ownership has been the focus of a national debate, stirred up with each mass shooting. While Alaska as a state has a much different attitude toward guns than much of the Lower 48, we think it’s important to note that gun violence has impacted our community. To us, the argument isn’t over whether guns — or specific types of guns — are good or bad, but how to preserve responsible gun ownership and protect the public from those who do harm.

That’s a far more complex question than simply whether guns are good or bad, and requires a much more nuanced answer, one that isn’t going to come from just one opinion poll.

Our main takeaway from the Alaska Survey Research poll is that Alaskans have a wide range of views on gun ownership, and those views are evolving. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; the poll surveyed 761 people statewide, including 65 residents of the Kenai Peninsula. We know from experience that if you get 65 peninsula residents in a room together, you’ll get varying views on any topic, from the role of government to the best way to prepare salmon.

Those wide-ranging viewpoints are reflected in the survey results, and we’d reiterate that having a differing opinion on the topic doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, good or bad. Indeed, the poll found high rates of gun ownership on the peninsula, and less support for restrictions on gun ownership here than in other parts of the state.

Notably, there was on question in the poll on which a large majority of Alaskans appear to agree. Eighty-four percent of respondents statewide, and 80 percent from the peninsula, would support a measure allowing family members or police to petition a judge to confiscate firearms of a person deemed to be a risk.

That’s a topic that, in our opinion, steers the debate in the right direction — actions we can take to preserve responsible gun ownership, but take steps to protect public safety.

Again, one survey isn’t enough to determine whether such a measure constitutes a reasonable restriction on gun ownership, but it does provide a good place for the debate to discussion to start. It’s a discussion we hope to see continue.

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