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Everyone who knows me or has read my writings knows I am a gun owner.

According to my latest count, I own 27 guns. I gave my son, Lance, a 7mm-08 when he graduated college and my son, Chad, a .243 the afternoon before his first game as a head football coach.

My family celebrates special occasions with guns. It’s just who we are.

Let others discuss the pros and cons of gun control. The discussion I want to have is about how to make gun ownership safer for all America.

I have absolutely no fear that anyone plans to come take any of my guns away from me or from my 4-month-old grandson, Grayson James, during his lifetime.

Not even the most vocal supporters of gun control are proposing that guns be taken away from law-abiding citizens in America. None!

Don’t let any politician scare you with claims that his opponent plans to take your guns away because it’s a lie.

However, there is a problem in this country. In just the six years since the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been 1,600 mass shootings in this country (with a mass shooting defined as “four or more people injured or killed in a single event at the same time and location”).

That is unacceptable, and “prayers and thoughts” are not an adequate response; neither is saying “we have a people problem, not a gun problem.”

For me, it is simple. I just have to close my eyes and picture one of my five grandchildren – who are now between the ages of 4 months and 8 years old – being shot in a mass shooting to know I must no longer be silent. Something has to change!

We are 1,600 mass shootings late in making the needed changes.

Some things just make common sense, such as stronger background checks; banning sales of military-style weapons to civilians; banning machine gun-type weapons that rapid fire more than 10 rounds per minute; no bump stocks that turn a gun into a machine gun; and even, possibly, raising the age for gun ownership to 21.

I do not mind our rural schools arming teachers, but I do not think that is the answer.

I recently read that the technology exists to make a gun incapable of being fired by anyone but its owner; sounds like a wonderful idea, as far as I’m concerned.

It makes no sense to me that I was able to buy a gun from a friend by simply writing him a check without anybody else – including the state of Texas – ever knowing.

On the other hand, when I bought a friend’s pickup truck from his widow, I had to transfer the title to my name as well as pay tax, title and license fees. It took me three trips because I put it under the name of my corporation.

Now if I had to do that to buy a pickup truck, why didn’t I have to do the same thing to buy a gun?

Pay a transfer fee that goes to Texas Parks and Wildlife and local law enforcement? Let local authorities know I own this gun? That would not affect my ability or right to own it, but it sure would make a lot of sense.

To me, discussing gun safety is a great deal like talking about automobile safety. We have passed many regulations to make driving an automobile safer.

When I was a kid, there were no child seats. I can remember lying in the back of the car on the dashboard (yes, they had rear dashboards back then) and looking up at the stars as dad drove us home from Ballinger to Paint Rock.

The vast majority of kids survived those years, but we still worked to make cars safer.

Probably 99 percent of us who own guns will never use them in any illegal manner or kill a human being with our guns, but we still need to discuss how to make them safer, just as we did with automobiles.

Think about automobile safety laws. None of those laws has threatened to take our vehicles away from us. They just addressed how to make it safer for us to enjoy our vehicles.

So, we have seat belt laws; we have speed limit laws; we have airbags; we have extremely reduced speed limits in school zones.

None of those things threatens my ability to own and operate a vehicle; they just make sure I use common sense and save lives – or else pay the penalty. I’m happy to comply with all of these laws.

Friends, we regulate everything in some way. Common-sense regulations protect us all; overregulation hurts us all. Politics is arguing over which regulations are common sense, and which ones are too much.

As a homebuilder, I don’t mind inspections of my foundations, framing or electrical work. The public has a right to know that I build a safe, quality home.

I’m a hunter, and the state regulates how many deer I can kill on my own private property, for goodness’ sake. But I’m OK with that.

I still get to hunt. They just want to protect the deer population from the idiots who would shoot everything they see, and we all know such people exist.

The March for Our Lives events across the U.S. last weekend were marches for safety in our schools, our churches, our communities. It is not a march about gun control, but it is a march urging our country to talk about gun safety.

If we don’t want more schoolkids joining the Parkland kids, the Sandy Hook kids and the many others who have mourned their classmates and teachers in recent years, then we will start talking and take action now to make them safer.

It’s time to make some common-sense changes to our culture.

David R. Currie has a doctorate in Christian ethics and is a local rancher, businessman and Sunday School teacher. A version of this article first appeared in the San Angelo Standard-Times and is used with permission.

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