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Editorial: Gun control no joke

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks reporter Fran Spielman about his first year office. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks to reporter Fran Spielman about his first year in office. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times.

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Updated: August 4, 2012 6:19AM

Mockery gets you nowhere.

Not if your aim is to change hearts and minds rather than draw battle lines.

Last weekend, members of a Downstate pro-gun group made that point pretty well when they drove up to Chicago and turned in about 60 rusted-out and broken guns in exchange for $6,200 in gift cards. This was their supposedly amusing way of ridiculing a gun trade-in program run by the Chicago Police to get dangerous firearms off the city’s streets.

The group, Guns Save Life, based in Champaign County, said they’d use the gift cards to buy ammunition and firearms for a youth program that teaches gun safety and marksmanship.

Clever, huh?

While in town, though, we have to wonder if the pro-gun group happened to read about Heaven, the 7-year-old girl who was killed last Wednesday by goofs with guns who shot into a crowd outside her mother’s house. And we have to wonder if they happened to catch the news about the eight other people killed over the weekend, including a 3-year-old boy, and the 17 who were wounded — all shot by people with guns.

Did they chuckle?

Chicago is a town besieged by gun violence, mostly in deprived neighborhoods where life is tough enough without having to worry about whether your kid gets home safely each night. In response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police are taking aggressive measures to reduce the violence, including running firearms trade-in programs and pushing moderate gun-control laws.

To mock those efforts, even as one might disagree with them, is offensive. Our children lie dead in the morgue.

There’s a legitimate debate to be had as to the effectiveness of gun-control laws, a debate that begins on both sides with respect, good will and hard facts. The aim is to persuade, not pummel.

But the more groups like Guns Save Life pull stunts like the one last weekend, the more they drive away caring and thoughtful people.

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