Letters to the Editor

Writer asks for sensible gun control

Posted 10/10/17

To The Editor:I want to add my voice to those who are asking for sensible gun control. As the carnage and heartbreak too regularly remind us, it’s time to act. Just a few days ago, it was Las …

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Letters to the Editor

Writer asks for sensible gun control

Posted

To The Editor:

I want to add my voice to those who are asking for sensible gun control. 

As the carnage and heartbreak too regularly remind us, it’s time to act. Just a few days ago, it was Las Vegas.

As the framers noted in the Preamble, this union is not yet perfect. To get there we must control a menace that has threated too many lives and undermined the “pursuit of happiness” of too many of our citizens.

As moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and children from Columbine to Sandy Hook and Orlando to Las Vegas will attest, the precious “blessings of liberty” were lost way too early by one too many. 

Our Constitution begins with the promise of a long list of inalienable rights, but they are null and void if I or my children or my neighbors must dodge bullets in the school cafeteria, or at work, in a nightclub, or at a concert. Preserving life in all of its colors is fundamental and takes precedent over all that follows. 

I grew up in the 1960s in a small rural community in South Georgia. We had lots of guns, but no machine guns. We didn’t need them. We hunted and protected our little farm from varmints with a small arsenal of shotguns and rifles, none of which had high-capacity magazines. 

Our guns did what we asked of them. We hunted deer, squirrels and wild hogs with shotguns that had a maximum capacity of three shells. We had seen the damage that double-ought buckshot could do to a deer and we were pretty sure that one round could stop an intruder if necessary.

There were old men and young men in our community who knew what rapid-fire machine guns could do to their brothers in arms and they were sick of it. Back then, we reasoned that these terrible weapons of mass destruction should be solely in the hands of experts, those who protect and serve and keep us safe. 

It’s telling that men and women who know the most about these weapons are the most respectful of their potential for harm and most reluctant to use them. I don’t mind living near a military installation or a police precinct where these weapons are stored, but I certainly don’t want my neighbors to own machine guns, grenades or howitzers. These weapons of war can kill and maim people across the street or in neighborhoods five miles down the road.  

According to Wayne LaPierre’s insensitive remarks in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But what if the bad guy gets a bigger gun? A howitzer? A bomb?  We must stop this escalation. If we don’t, our neighborhoods may look more like Mogadishu or Freetown or Fallujah — angry young men roaming the streets in the back of an F-150 with bigger and bigger WMDs. 

I think the framers of the Constitution would agree that the “blessings of liberty” they envisioned are not constrained by reasonable measures. In fact, they may actually “promote the general welfare.” 

If we do nothing, the blood of the innocent may be on our hands. 

I can think of no better appeal than the powerful words of one who personally witnessed the horror that the efficient weapons of war could unleash. Looking over an audience clearly divided, President Lincoln said, “We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.  The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the angels of our better nature.”  

May it be so in the frank talks we grownups must have. 

— Gary L. Riggins  

Cleveland

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