I might be called a gun man. I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin. We enjoyed hunting rabbits, pheasants, squirrels, ducks and deer. Since we have lived in this area, I have usually had a gun. I'm no gun hater.
The rifles and shotguns we used were efficient killers of game. We didn't need weapons designed for the mass killing of human beings. Neither does anyone else, other than the military and perhaps the police. Our founders, when they wrote the Second Amendment, never heard of such weapons; they hadn't yet been invented.
We are appalled and shocked by the slaughter of large groups of blameless individuals, most recently a room full of elementary school children. We should be. We are much less bothered, however, by the killing every year of countless thousands of Americans by firearms. For example, in 2011 alone, that included over 10,000 murders by guns. Yet, again appropriately, we were deeply moved by the loss of over 5,000 of our troops in the course of the Iraq War.
There are new calls for gun control. Let's face it. There are some 300 million firearms in private hands in the United States. Guns will continue to take a fearsome toll. But that does not mean we must remain helpless to reduce the mass killings of innocents. In view of what we are experiencing, what rational person could oppose measures (1) to ban the sale of weapons of mass destruction and the mega magazines of bullets necessary to feed them, and (2) to require background checks for all purchasers of firearms.
Of course, we must reckon with the National Rifle Association. It was once the spokesman for legitimate gun owners. Anyone acquainted with its current operations knows it is now the main flack for the gun manufacturers, which pour cash into its coffers. For years, by money and bullying, this relatively small organization has held hostage the people of America and their gutless politicians. This travesty must stop.
Bob Lowerre, Woodstock