The Opelika-Auburn News reported on Wednesday morning that a 17-year old Opelika High student walked into the school with a loaded pistol in his backpack. Someone heard about this, alerted school staff and, “after a physical altercation took place between the student and administrators, the administrators were able to gain control of him,” and secure the weapon.

In your editorial Friday morning, you suggested “In the days and weeks ahead, we trust that school officials, law enforcement and the community will reflect on what measures need to be taken to make OHS and other schools safer.”

If Alabama required people to get a permit before they purchase a gun (which it does not), and required the owner of every gun to have it registered in his or her name like we do automobiles (which it does not), the police could identify the person responsible for allowing that gun to be in that boy’s possession. The knowledge that the police will eventually locate you as the owner of a gun, should it be used in a crime, is a powerful incentive to take good care of it, and to secure it.

But in Alabama, the Constitution dictates “the entire subject matter of handguns is reserved to the State Legislature.” This won’t change, ever, unless the NRA wants it to change. If we had a legislator who would introduce such a law, which we don’t, he or she would be immediately targeted by the very organization that should be in the forefront of working for gun safety-- the NRA. In the days and weeks ahead, we are left to reflect only on those safety measures of choice promulgated by the NRA leadership: hire armed guards to patrol the school; buy and set up metal detectors; arm administrators and staff and train them and young children in “terrorist” response techniques. Is this all that is left to us?

I pray that the members of the NRA will do some soul-searching, stop hiding behind the false claim that “registration leads to confiscation,” and do something about this.

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