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Letter to the Editor - Let's Put Gun Issue In Perspective

When a crazed gunman takes the lives of innocent schoolkids, we get angry. Real angry!

I can understand the knee-jerk reaction to get military-style guns out of the hands of civilians. And I can also understand the knee-jerk reaction to take any such surviving shooters out of jail and string them up within 24 hours of the deed.

But in the US, we abide by the Constitution and the rule of law. Our citizens are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms by the Second Amendment, and even serial killers are guaranteed the right to a fair trial.

Any gun control dialogue must include the influence of Rambo-type movies, homocidal video games, copshooting "music," the Dragons and Dungeons wing-nuts, and the rights/non-rights of the mentally ill.  Then we have to factor in the fact that most shooters are under the influence of powerful drugs. And we must realize that the Second Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, doesn't protect citizens from each other, but ensures that citizens' freedoms are protected from being nullified by the government. This was, and still is, quite important for those who escaped repressive countries for a new life in America, and most of the rest of us.

Those who try to inject into the discussion that NRA CEO Wayne La Pierre had a medical draft deferment, or that many veterans don't endorse the private ownership of certain weapons, or that some mistakenly believe that the weapons industry somehow endorses schoolhouse massacres because they somehow benefit financially, should be ignored. It's immaterial if not just nutty. In the interest of disclosure, I am a Viet Nam era vet who received military weapons training, who has no interest in acquiring such weapons as a civilian, but who supports the rights of those who want to, just as I support the rights of the flag-burners. It''s all about freedom. That's why we serve. Now let's put the gun issue into perspective.

First, our kids are way more likely to be struck by lightning than to be victims of a nut-job. Then how about liquor? How the many thousands of innocents who die every year because of it? Then there's tobacco. And how about boxing, and the flying of ultra-light aircraft, and the road-legal cars that can go 140 MPH? Aren't these other things that are completely unnecessary, and are certain to cause some deaths, and that some survivors will be vegetables? Why don't we ban all this nonsense?

Because of freedom. The cornerstone of of country. This has made our counrty great!  We have choices. No, there's no reason to have a car with 440 horsepower, but they are neat, and it's cool to have one, and it gives us pleasure to have one, even though there may be an increased risk of a fatality. And I'm even OK with those military arms collectors who would like to own military tanks, provided they would be required to play with them only on some privately-owned thousand-acre preserve which bothered no one. Like they used to say "It's a free country."

No, our lives are not without risk. Nor should they be. We are very lucky as a people, that we can spend our money on things that may not be completely safe, but give us pleasure.  Are we now prepared to trade freedom for security? Wasn't it Ben Franklin that said those who endeavor to do so get neither?

So hey! How about this? We get the federal government and Obama the heck out of the gun equation. Aren't we all tired of the phony federal fact-finding meetings, the VP's grandstanding, and the threat of law by presidential executive order? Let's throw it all back to the states where it belongs. Obviously, the firearm concerns of Connecticut are different than the concerns of Wyoming or Alaska. So let the states do what their citizens want, consistent with the Second Amendment.

Tom Felhofer
Union

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