The March 18 cover story “We are gun owners” was a misguided reaction to the movement young Americans are leading to make our country a safer place. Rather than uniting us, rhetoric like this will push us further apart.

The debate reignited by the school shooting in Parkland is not between liberals and conservatives or gun owners and those without guns. It’s about National Rifle Association-owned members of Congress refusing to adopt common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. One need not oppose the Second Amendment to believe that every gun sale or transfer should be subject to a background check or that private citizens should never have access to weapons like the AR-15 that are capable of taking dozens of lives in mere minutes.

The recent Telegram piece positions a woman who shoots for sport and a student who refuses to join his classmates in a walkout as victims of a movement whose intention was never to infringe upon their rights. This paints supporters of the #neveragain movement as enemies of freedom, rather than individuals troubled by the continued loss of life from weapons of war and worried that their loved ones might be next.

Since 2013, over 6,000 Americans have been wounded and over 1,700 killed in mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, with at least 239 shootings taking place in schools. Congratulating Maine gun owners for responsibly handling their weapons won’t prevent the next deaths.

Opinions on gun control exist on a broad spectrum, but we all agree that children shouldn’t be hunted at school. It’s time we set aside our differences and agree to live in a country in which law-abiding citizens can own rifles but parents don’t have to worry that a lunatic with a weapon of war might keep their children from coming home from school.

Bryan O’Connor