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Enough is enough; we must get guns under control

Sun Herald editorial

AMANDA MCCOY/SUN HERALDA woman embraces two children near the intersection of Davis Avenue and Ladnier Street in Pass Christian after a shooting on Feb. 7.
AMANDA MCCOY/SUN HERALDA woman embraces two children near the intersection of Davis Avenue and Ladnier Street in Pass Christian after a shooting on Feb. 7. AP

Welcome to the Wild West.

There have been shootouts at Mardi Gras parades, where hundreds scattered as gunfire erupted on a Pass Christian street. Bullets were sprayed into a crowd at Barber College in Waveland. A man was shot and killed outside a home in a densely populated subdivision in Harrison County.

There have been several shootings in the streets.

Teens shooting teens.

Family members shooting family members.

Shootings in parking lots.

So many shootings this year, they have become a blur.

On Tuesday's front page, half the stories were about shootings. A woman is accused of shooting her estranged husband while he held their child.

A bystander was wounded at a gas station in the heart of Gulfport.

"This is not Gulfport," Police Chief Leonard Papania said in March as gun violence soared.

It once wasn't Gulfport, but now it is. It is the city where a middle school student is accused of bringing a loaded handgun and 100 rounds of ammo to school.

And it's Long Beach -- where the woman stands accused of shooting her husband.

It's Harrison County -- where a man was killed and another wounded in Crown Hill, a subdivision where the shots could have just as easily hit a neighbor or passer-by.

And it's Biloxi -- where a woman told police she saw a man get a gun from his car and open fire outside the Mississippi Coast Coliseum after the Biloxi High School graduation Tuesday evening.

We don't want to take firearms from responsible gun owners, but it's hard to imagine any of these people fit that description.

Papania said he and the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police tried to give the Legislature advice on gun bills this year.

"For some reason, the input of law enforcement is not solicited and when we do reach out, we're not getting a response," he said.

So now we have a law that increases the number of people carrying guns without a permit.

Police in other states with similar laws say they have come across people daring anyone to call police and challenge their right to carry guns near schools and libraries.

"Do you want every incident on your street to escalate into acts of gun violence?" Papania said in a New York Times article that was reprinted in the Sun Herald.

Police told the Times the new laws, such as Mississippi's, undermine their ability to train people to handle firearms and to keep guns out of the hands of violent people.

"What is alarming to the police is that they have no power to ascertain the potential criminal background of an armed individual until a crime is committed, and by then it is too late," said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an advocacy group.

It is time lawmakers gave our police officers the same consideration the Legislature and state leaders give the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups.

We should be able to pump gas, or watch a loved one graduate, without constantly looking over our shoulders.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.