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Continuing the gun control discussion

The irony was not lost on America: guns were banned from the NRA convention in Dallas last week, at speeches given by President Trump and Vice President Pence on Friday, May 4. The speeches were in favor of gun owners and gun rights and critical of stricter gun control.

The convention’s ban on firearms and firearm accessories, knives or weapons of any kind was placed by the U.S. Secret Service, which was responsible for security at the annual NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. The ILA, Institute for Legislative Action, is the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America.

The move was seen as a statement on the dangers of guns — even when trying to shield those most adamant about the Second Amendment.

A student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were shot and killed on Feb. 14, expressed his shock.

“Wait wait wait wait wait wait you’re telling me to make the VP safe there aren’t any weapons around but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere?” tweeted Matt Deitsch, who also helped organize the March for Our Lives protest following the shootings. “Can someone explain this to me? Because it sounds like the NRA wants to protect people who help them sell guns, not kids.”

For a high school student, Matt Deitsch is pretty sharp.

The NRA-ILA is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington. Its success fighting smart gun safety measures in this country has stretched decades. 

Now, in the face of a changing political climate that could be more open to having a frank discussion on the dangers of guns and the challenges of gun control, the NRA is making the claim that stricter laws won’t keep more people safe — in schools or in the general public. 

That’s a hard point to prove, and just as hard to support. Even Trump has endorsed federal legislation to make background checks more effective, as well as calling for red-flag protection orders.

Red-flag orders let police temporarily confiscate guns from those found to pose a threat to themselves or others. They can help save lives, and have been passed in a handful of states. Amazingly, Trump is encouraging all states to do so.

While we’re glad the president sees the wisdom in that, we’re concerned that he’s called for arming teachers in classrooms. Putting more guns in our schools doesn’t make sense — it simply increases the danger. Placing more school resource officers (SROs) — police officers who are armed and knowledgeable about how to protect the public — does make sense. We think SROs should be stationed in every school, in every community.

Meanwhile, legislation to protect both students and the general public continues to be written and adopted, post-Parkland. Unfortunately, it always seems like it takes tragedy to spur change. 

Change, though, is needed and sometimes our best bet to staying safe. As part of the 2018 New York State budget passed last week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a bill that expands the list of criminal offenses — like domestic violence — that will prevent people from having guns. 

The law will also prohibit wanted felons from getting or renewing a firearm license.

Additionally, the governor is hoping to extend the waiting period for legally buying a gun from three to 10 days.

Will all of this mean that some people will be inconvenienced when they want to legally buy a gun? Yes. And we think that’s OK. Anyone wanting to properly purchase a firearm should  be able to withstand additional red tape — if it means that such regulations might protect people from those buying guns intending to do harm to themselves or others. And isn’t that what we’re all striving for — gun owners and gun-control advocates alike?