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This American father is redefining what it means to be a 'responsible gun owner'

(Picture: Steve Elliot/Facebook
(Picture: Steve Elliot/Facebook

Following the deaths of nine people at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon last week, debate over gun ownership has raged again in the US.

While Barack Obama gave an impassioned speech calling on his country to wake up to the problem it faces, and the father of the shooter called for an overhaul to the country's laws, the pro-gun lobby has been just as ferocious in its support for the right to bear arms.

Gun sales across the country have increased since the shooting and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson made some pretty unsavoury remarks about the Holocaust as a defence for the Second Amendment.

The argument from that side of the debate goes that more guns in the hands of "responsible gun owners" are the best way to stop those who want to cause harm.

But one man, who says he has owned a gun since the age of 12 has won plaudits for turning the definition of "responsible gun owner" on its head.

Steve Elliot, who works for a copywriting and PR agency in California, explained in his post (which has now been shared more than 35,000 times) that while he has lost members of his own family to gun violence, it took the Oregon shooting for him to finally take action.

There are too many guns to do anything about it, the gun lobby says. Regulations are a slippery slope that only limit the rights of responsible gun owners, they say.

My gun is being used to argue against common-sense laws and policies that could reduce gun violence in America, arguments I find unconscionable. That’s what being a responsible gun owner means today – I’m responsible.

Elliot explains in his post, which is accompanied by a photo of his 9mm Ruger, that he has decided to destroy his firearm - that, ultimately, is what a responsible gun owner should do, he explains.

None of us individually can stop gun violence in America, but as a responsible gun owner, I will no longer be used as a justification for doing nothing about it. Today I did what I could. Today there is #ONELESSGUN.

Read Elliot's post in full below:

I am a responsible gun owner. I bought my first gun when I was 12. It was a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, and I saved...

Posted by Steve Elliott on Monday, 5 October 2015

I am a responsible gun owner.

I bought my first gun when I was 12. It was a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, and I saved money from my paper route and cleaning a drive-in restaurant to buy it in time for dove season. In the years before I could legally drive, I’d tie the Browning across the handlebars of my bike and ride to the fields outside town to hunt.

I’ve owned several guns since, and own a handgun now. I bought that gun to keep my family safe, and lock it up to keep them safe from it. Like I said, responsible.

And so while I’d like to believe I’m not part and party to the gun violence that stains America, I can’t. My grandmother shot and killed herself with a gun, and a few years ago my father shot and didn’t quite kill himself with one. My stepbrother died in a murder-suicide with a gun, and the husband of one of my sister’s co-workers was killed in a mass shooting.

None of that happened with my gun, of course, but after every new mass shooting, I’m reminded that I bear a portion of the responsibility for our nation’s gun violence. There are too many guns to do anything about it, the gun lobby says. Regulations are a slippery slope that only limit the rights of responsible gun owners, they say.

My gun is being used to argue against common-sense laws and policies that could reduce gun violence in America, arguments I find unconscionable. That’s what being a responsible gun owner means today – I’m responsible. I’ve been uneasy about that for a while now, and ashamed to admit it’s taken two more mass shootings for me to do anything about it.

That ended today. Today I disassembled my handgun, a 9mm Ruger, clamped the pieces in a vice and cut them in half with an angle grinder. I’m sending the proper paperwork into the state to report it destroyed.

None of us individually can stop gun violence in America, but as a responsible gun owner, I will no longer be used as a justification for doing nothing about it. Today I did what I could. Today there is #ONELESSGUN.

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