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As a Jewish boy in Poland during WWII, my dad hid, breathless, as soldiers executing a ghetto-wide roundup entered the barn where he hid. He somehow escaped from the clutches of a journey that would have likely led to a concentration camp; and fled into the harsh winter of the Polish forest where he’d spend months alone, having lost his childhood, along with his entire family and community.

He tried to join forces with a Partisan army. But there was a catch. They only wanted you if you had a gun. It was a harsh but understandable truth. My dad spent the ensuing weeks focused on one thing: Get a gun. The gun was power. Get a gun. The gun was acceptance. Get a gun. The gun was his only chance.

He got the gun and it should surprise no one that it felt good in his hand. The gun meant a chance to live.

The gun saved his life and turned him from a victim to a warrior.

But here’s the thing. My dad thinks America is a place with too many guns. He watches the news and it makes him sick. He doesn’t understand the insane violence or the ridiculous laws. I agree. There’s absolutely no way to look at the numbers — the murders, the mass shootings, the carnage — and come to a conclusion other than this: we’ve ceded all reason on this topic to the grip of a fanaticism that rivals any cultural or religious zealotry.

But here’s the other thing he thinks. And I’m afraid I agree with this as well. It’s probably too late. There are already too many guns. If we ended all gun sales tomorrow, we’d still have hundreds of millions of them on the streets. And sadly, unlike its target, a gun never expires.

No, I’m not optimistic that gun control can solve our most pressing national concern, at least not in the near term. But we need to do something. To stop hiding behind a wildly antiquated ammendment to the Constitution and admit that our gun violence is a conscious, modern, active choice. To, for once, take a step in the right direction on this issue.

Dave Pell writes NextDraft. Joe Pell told his life story in the book, Taking Risks.

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I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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