A recent opinion was published in the AFN indicating that we at AZ PASS (Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society), a local grass-roots organization dedicated to reducing gun violence, have only “smoke and mirrors” behind our views.

We truly wish it were the case that rampant gun violence in our country was only an illusion, but unfortunately it is not. There are neither mirrors nor smoke about the roughly 100,000 Americans shot annually in the US. Nothing is very magical about the more than 30,000 people killed at the end of a gun barrel each year in our country. Unfortunately no abracadabra can do away with the more than 10,000 gun-related homicides in our country annually.

If anyone is guilty of magical thinking in this discussion, it is not AZ PASS. We are not content to close our eyes and just wish for a safer society. We are not ignoring the science, the facts, or the real lives lost. We believe in the right to bear arms, but do not believe that guns are sacred or have nothing to do with our grotesque levels of gun violence. We recognize that a gun is an inherently dangerous but necessary tool, which should be well regulated just like all other necessary but dangerous tools.

The commentator in AFN’s Sept. 18 edition (“AZ PASS offers only smoke and mirrors,” by Gerald Tharp) asserts that the ultimate goal of AZ PASS is to ban and confiscate all guns. Let me stress that confiscating or banning all guns is NOT AZ PASS’s objective. Our aim is to reduce gun violence in our community, our state and our country.

We see commonsense gun laws as a rational way, among others, to tackle the problem of too many of us suffering from gun violence. We advocate for universal background checks — something the vast majority of Americans support. We also support assault weapon and high capacity magazine bans — these are weapons of war and have no place in civilian life. We believe “Stand Your Ground” laws lead to more violent confrontations and gun industry profits, not more successful cases of self-defense. We DO NOT advocate for the abolition of private gun ownership in America.

Despite what those opposed to AZ PASS’ efforts tend to argue, we base our arguments on real facts and research. Moving to another country to flee gun violence is not an option, and assigning similar safety risks to knives, hammers or cars isn’t either. Self-defense measures include strengthening gun laws, which tramples no one’s rights.

Fair readers of any commentaries Ellen Davis, chair of AZ PASS, and I have contributed to the AFN will recognize that detractors’ arguments are not well founded and are unhelpful distractions from our main point, which is that we need to actually do something about our culture of gun violence other than buy, sell and stockpile more and more guns.

We note that our opponents never provide any plausible solutions to our country’s gun violence problem. They only say, essentially, “don’t mess with MY guns!” How can that help find an answer?

In the end, I am grateful for the kind civility the Sept. 18 commentator demonstrated towards me by promising “not to hold a gun to (my) head” after proposing that I focus my energies on issues he is more concerned about than reducing gun violence.

If you think reducing gun violence is a goal with merit to our society, please join us at AZ PASS or one of the many other fine groups working to save lives in our communities such Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America or Arizonans for Gun Safety. Acting together, we will not need magic to make our society safer.

• Ahwatukee resident Bryan L. Brinkley is secretary of Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society (AZ PASS). For more information, visit www.azpass.org.

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