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Tracy Frank, Published March 16 2013

TAKING AIM: Sandy Hook shooting tragedy inspires ND mom to take action for gun control

MANDAN, N.D. - Susan Beehler was not familiar with the gun control issue until the December school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary inspired her to take action.

After the shooting, Beehler, of Mandan, started seeing gun owners post comments online about their guns being taken away, she said.

“They were talking frantically like somebody was going to march into their house and confiscate all their guns,” she said. “I just thought that seemed so unrealistic. It really caught my attention.”

After researching the issue, Beehler started the North Dakota chapter of “Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America,” an advocacy group fighting for tougher gun control measures.

“This is something that needs to be addressed,” she said. “As moms and families, we can’t deny that there’s a problem with violence in our country anymore.”

Beehler, who has five children and one grandchild, has been pounding the pavement to drum up support, encouraging people to ask their legislators for tighter gun control measures, and has testified before the state legislature, she said.

In what ways do you think current gun laws need to change?

A People are getting guns without having any accountability. The access to guns has to change. It has to go from being so easy to at least making it more difficult for criminals to get guns.

What other changes do you think are needed?

At Moms Demand Action, we have four points that we want to see addressed.

No. 1 is the assault weapon. That is a weapon that we want to be banned. Being banned does not mean confiscation. It means it can’t be made anymore or sold to another person. You couldn’t market them.

The other thing is banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

We also want to require background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases.

We also want sales of large quantities of ammunition reported to the ATF (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and to ban online sales of ammunition so there is a red flag in case somebody is gun trafficking or planning some kind of major event.

Why should background checks be mandated for all gun and ammunition purchases?

What a background check does is it’s going to prevent somebody who has something in their history from purchasing a gun. It’s also to make sure the guns aren’t going into somebody’s hands who has domestic violence charges against them or other criminal records.

In what ways are current gun laws working?

In our state, I think we just have a lot of good people, because a lot of people do own guns. We do have a lot of people who are responsible.

But we’re finding in the research that’s out there is (using a gun for) self-defense actually endangers your family members if you do own a weapon. Women in a domestic violence situation, their odds of being killed increases when a firearm is in the house. States with stricter gun regulations actually have a decrease in fire-arms related deaths.

What do you think are the best ways to stop violence with guns?

I believe violence is a behavior and it is a choice. If you have somebody who has violent tendencies and they have easy access to guns and they chose to use it, they can inflict a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526.