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Be reasonable and still protect the Second Amendment

(This is a letter to the editor of a local paper that I just had published. I'd written it in response to another letter claiming liberals were exploiting the tragedy of Sandy Hook. Although I used some of the arguments in the original letter, I think mine is self-explanatory enough to be posted here.)

I read Mr. Niggemeyer's letter entitled "Liberals are exploiting this tragedy" with astonishment. Mr. Niggemeyer tells us in his letter what he believes. I have no doubt that he believes what he says, but people believe many things that are not true. Now, I too, want to make a few comments in response.

The words "assault weapon" are not meaningless. A weapon is a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage. To add the adjective "assault" in front of weapon implies an offensive attack weapon. In short, a weapon used for war. They have no place in the hands of anyone not charged with a military mission, in my view.

The students and staff that lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary had not joined a gang, or sold drugs, nor were hanging out where drugs are sold. They didn't rob small business owners, or shoot at the police. Yet they were ripped apart by bullets designed to do just that, coming from an assault weapon in the hands of a man. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," the NRA leadership tells us. How? With guns. When was the last mass bludgeoning in the US? Did I miss it?

This is not a liberal versus conservative or Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is a public safety issue that is long overdue for serious and comprehensive consideration. As terrible as it feels to say it, an incident like that at Sandy Hook was inevitable. It was made inevitable because repeatedly, we collectively failed to make any reasonable, commonsense responses to those mass shootings that preceded Sandy Hook.

We threw up our hands helplessly and told ourselves that nothing could be done. "These were isolated incidents by crazed gunmen," we told ourselves. The fact that they happen with disturbing regularity and with similar types of weapons seemed lost on us. No more.

I am standing up and speaking out for reasonable gun safety that is completely in accord with the Second Amendment. Join me. As a long time gun owner, I would be entirely comfortable with legislation modeled after the New York state changes that were just signed into law on Wednesday. I certainly don't need more people (of any age) to die before I realize that serious action needs to be taken. Hopefully, you don't either.

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Comment by exedir on January 24, 2013 at 9:00am

This issue exists because of the Bill of Rights, otherwise, in a modern society with evolved governments there would be limits at a minimum on how, who , when and if as to weapon ownership and use of almost any kind.

So, is this ongoing concern an issue of rights or is it an issue of ownership and use or potential use in violence, mayhem and injury.  To some it is also the legitimate concern of self protection and the protection of others from those that could and would do harm if not otherwise armed and ready to use weapons in self-defense.  To some it is also a statement as to what government is about and what is needed to keep an intrusive and interventional government out of the pursuit of personal rights.

So, where does that leave us, as a nation and as citizens?  A debate that has and will continue as the tension of rights and responsibilities continues, as will violence, mayhem and injury that occurs on our doorsteps, streets, gathering places and desolate points of geography. 

Comment by MGDJ on January 23, 2013 at 5:47pm

I think there is some element of where the current Republicans get their votes.  I have heard a lot of ideological arguments, but no real substantive argument against gun control.  The Democrats do the same thing with unions as they get their votes from union members.  Their arguments against right to work laws are speculatory in that employers know that they cannot reduce wages arbitrarily and hope to compete productivity-wise in this economy.

Comment by darroll on January 23, 2013 at 5:14pm

Take away your guns and not mine.

Comment by WS on January 22, 2013 at 3:45pm

Very nice response, Vernon!

Comment by Vernon Windsor on January 22, 2013 at 1:11pm
You're preaching to the choir here, my friend.
Comment by Lip Service on January 22, 2013 at 12:59pm

It is time to look more closely at this second amendment argument. It talks about "organized militia" to combat a tyrannical government. This is clearly not the situation today and it will never be. Because the government today has tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, drones, that the citizenry of today cannot possibly match, assault weapons not withstanding no matter how sophisticated an assault weapon it is.

So that argument and its logic are now obsoleted by the capability of any modern army. The language of the second amendment speaks of a scenario that can no longer present itself.

This leaves the argument of self defense which is a legitimate one, specially if you live in a dangerous area or an isolated rural area.

The debate should be how much weapon is enough for reasonable personal defense.

This rules out hand grenades and flame throwers even though they might be handy to have.

Gun control is not about taking guns away from people but restricting the availability of those made for extreme military combat to the general public. It has everything to do with discussing, negotiating and establishing this "common sense boundary".

Thank you for your effort

Comment by Mandy Muffin on January 22, 2013 at 12:35pm

I agree wholeheartedly.  IMHO, we have taken the 2nd Amendment way beyond the intent of the founding fathers.  We need reasonable controls, even if it inconveniences some people. 

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