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Dialogue

You will be astonished if you’d study the U.S. Department of Justice’s Firearms Commerce in the United States annual statistical report. Since 1986, more than 150 million firearms were manufactured in our country. Some of these are exported to other countries; of the 10 million manufactured in 2015, 340,000 were exported. In 2016, we imported more than 5 million firearms manufactured outside the U.S. Our country has a voracious appetite for guns.

Do all these guns provide us with a sense of security? As I think back to the things that kept me awake in the mid 1980s, gun violence was not one of them. Today, every time I hear a siren, I wonder who is the latest victim of gun violence. More than 150 million guns later, do you feel more secure?

Consider this: Since 1985, most of our mental health institutions have been closed and many people with very complex mental health issues are being treated as outpatients or not being treated at all. I can’t help think that we’ve created an almost-perfect storm; many mentally challenged individuals living under undeniable stressful conditions with access to guns.

Now consider this: if we continue on the current course, another 150 million guns, many of them automatic assault weapons intended for military use, will be added to our gun caches in the next decade. Will that give you an increased sense of security or reason for concern? I say, “Enough is enough!” It’s time for reasonable gun reform legislation now.

Roger Hellman, Bloomington

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