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Taking new aim
Norma Smith Olson, left,
and Kathy Magnuson

by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson

Top guns. Our aim is true. Sharp shooters. Locked and loaded. Our cultural speech is filled with metaphors of gun language. We learn it early - our fascination with guns.

This nearly 3-year-old Kathy in the photo is holding her dad's hunting rifle. She remembers family duck and pheasant hunting trips. As a typical girl in the 1950s she had dolls, dress-up clothes and a toy kitchen for baking - but she remembers a favorite childhood gift was a toy gun and holster set.

Fast forward to post-college, when Kathy turned down a job offer because it would have required her to wear a gun. She didn't want to shoot anyone - for self-defense or any other reason. What happened in between?

Our individual and the United States' histories with guns has been a constantly evolving and complicated one. Today both of us are feeling out of synch in a culture where Americans are 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries. In the U.S., we average nearly one shooting at a school every week.

We don't buy the arguments voiced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) about "losing" gun rights. Based on 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an estimated 98.9 percent of Minnesotans live within 10 miles of a gun dealer. At the time, there were 1,440 licensed gun dealers in Minnesota, 1.8 times the number of post offices.

In the Women's Press, we've always felt it was important to put a woman's face on an issue. Dawn Marie Sanquist-Anderson - portrayed on the cover of this magazine - is a victim of domestic violence, shot by her estranged husband in 2011. Artist Bonnie Lee is working on an ambitious portrait project to put a face on domestic abuse and honor the lives of women killed by gun violence.


In this issue, the chemistry of power, control and guns is explored in a feature about domestic violence. According to FBI data analysis done by Everytown for Gun Safety, in states that require background checks for private hand gun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.

Kathryn Hahne writes about her "shotgun engagement" and her sister's "shotgun wedding" - shotguns were a gift of choice for couples whose families have a long tradition of hunting together.

The ActNow column shares suggestions from the local chapter of the national Moms Demand Action organization about how to have the tough conversations with people who might think differently than you do about guns.

Enough is enough. We have figured out how to test, screen and license drivers of cars. We have put warning labels on tobacco and limit who it can be sold to. The main reason we have not closed the loopholes on who can buy guns is the big money and lobbying of the NRA. We are not talking about taking people's guns away, as the NRA would suggest. People still drive cars and have plenty of access to tobacco.

Being against gun violence is not just holding that opinion. We must talk with our neighbors, families and friends. We must call our legislators.

When we speak up and step up we are culture changers. And perhaps life savers. Coming up:

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