On the Sandy Hook Shooting and Gun Policy

This past Friday, our state and our nation were witness to an unspeakable act of evil when a deranged individual (who will intentionally not be named here) took the lives of twenty innocent young children and six adults who were trying to teach and protect them.  Most employees at PTR are parents, whose children attend schools in Connecticut.  While thankfully, no one here was directly affected by this tragedy, it does hit uncomfortably close to home for our company.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in Newtown, and we pray that the innocent children are being well taken care of in God’s hands.

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Being both a company very local to this tragedy, and a business that is engaged in the firearms trade, PTR occupies a somewhat unique place in the spectrum of those who were, and will be affected by this tragedy and its aftermath.  As such, we thought it prudent to release this statement on the issue.

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First, on behalf of everyone at PTR, we would like to pledge our assistance to the families, school system, and local law enforcement agencies in helping them to recover from this tragedy.  Individually, or as a company, we are hoping to do anything we can to help our community mourn, recover, and rebuild.

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There is no one at this company who is not shocked at, and disgusted by the actions of the shooter in Newtown.  Further, there is no one who does not wish those children and teachers were celebrating the holidays with their families this year as they should have been.  When an act of violence is perpetrated upon children it hurts us deeply – both because it is our job to protect them and because it takes an exceptionally deranged individual to commit that kind of an act.  But please make no mistake – despite the magnitude of the crime – that single deranged individual is the only person who committed a crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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As we deal with the aftermath of this tragedy, we must take a moment to urge a degree of caution in our collective reaction to this horrible event.  When any tragedy happens, as they inevitably do in life, people everywhere ask themselves “What could we have done to prevent this?”  This is a natural reaction, and – when handled correctly – a good one.  But we must be careful to separate our anger and grief from the logic that leads to good decisions and good policy.

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We have heard many calls for more “gun control” in the wake of this tragedy.  Again, these reactions are natural for people whether they are involved in politics or not.  But one must tread extremely carefully where people’s fundamental rights are concerned and make sure that any policy response is directed to where it can do the most good, and the least harm.  And, as Ronald Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

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We could spend pages citing facts about gun laws.  We will leave the lion’s share of that to other sources.  We would simply like to point out that the shooter broke more than 15 federal laws before he ever set foot in that elementary school with his illegally obtained weapons – each of which would have carried a hefty prison sentence.  Further, we would like to remind people that the State of Connecticut has maintained a law that largely mirrors the prior federal assault weapons ban since it expired in 2004. To those contemplating more laws, or a renewed federal assault weapons ban, we ask that you consider at least these two facts before forming your opinion.

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Firearms are tools that are employed by people to accomplish a task.  They are employed by our military and law enforcement personnel to protect the rights of citizens.  But, they are also employed – or at least maintained – by citizens to protect their own rights to life, liberty, and property.  Unfortunately, there is not always a law enforcement officer present or readily available in every situation.  Our first responders are heroic men and women who do their utmost to protect people – but they are just that: responders.  They cannot be present at the inception of a tragedy like this other than through previous planning or sheer luck.  There are millions of people in the U.S. who own legal firearms who acted responsibly this past Friday, and one who committed an evil act of terror.  To strip those millions of law-abiding gun owners of their ability to protect themselves from evil actors is not the proper answer to this tragedy.

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The shooter in Newtown succeeded in taking the lives of innocent children and teachers.  He has taken a sense of safety from a community and a nation.  We believe that he should not be allowed to take any more.  There is no loss that can compare to the loss of a child.  Yet it is in times of adversity when it is so important not to forget how dear our rights are, and price that was paid to secure them.  If we as a nation rush to unnecessary and unproductive restrictions on the gun rights of citizens – we will be allowing this person to take even more from us.  We have gone to war all over the world to protect our rights and defended them against millions of armed men.  We urge our fellow citizens not to let one insane individual succeed where nations and armies have failed.

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We at PTR, along with most in the nation, believe that a discussion must be had regarding security in our schools, mental health, and the availability of firearms in that context.  As a firearms manufacturer, we would like to commit ourselves to being involved in those discussions from a common sense standpoint – in advocating a logical and rational response to this tragedy that protects the fundamental rights of legal gun owners while reducing the likelihood of tragedies like this happening in the future – especially to children.

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Like many in the nation, our hearts are broken thinking about the innocent young lives that were cut short.  We pray for the families, and we offer our support.  As we pray for the victims, we encourage those who make policy to remember the historically proven truism from Benjamin Franklin: “They who would give up essential liberty to obtain temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  They will lose both.

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