In the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 students dead, it is time for a reasonable conversation about gun laws that most Americans want to have, Congressman Jim Himes, D-4th District, told a crowd of 60 members of the Kiwanis Club during a luncheon Feb. 21.

Himes spoke on several topics, but the Florida shooting and questions about gun laws were a frequent theme. The luncheon was held in the rental hall of St. Matthew’s Episcopal and Wilton Presbyterian Church.

“We have two sides not talking to each other, and in the meantime 30,000-something Americans are dying every year because of guns,” Himes said, pointing out that suicide by gun is the cause of two-thirds of the gun deaths.

The problem is, if someone starts talking about changing gun laws, the gun advocates think you want to take away everyone's guns.

“It’s a tragic situation in the U.S.,” Himes said.

Most Americans agree that regardless of where guns are purchased, there should be background checks, he said. “And yet you can’t bring that before the Congress,” he said. Most Americans agree there are guns civilians should not have access to, and the question is “where do you draw that line?”

There is also the mental health question. “This individual in Florida, everyone knows was a danger, and the system didn’t provide the help needed,” Himes said.

Some politicians have suggested that teachers should be armed and prepared to shoot intruders who mean harm.

“That’s crazy,” Himes said.

The conversation is shut down, though, and the National Rifle Association is not the only reason.

“It’s the way the NRA over time has colored the debate,” Himes said. “The NRA has convinced the country that folks like me want to take away their guns. It’s been effective, but a little silly.”

Himes, who lives in Greenwich, told the crowd he personally enjoys shooting guns at target ranges.