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Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Appalachian Man's Opinion Of Gun Control

I received my first gun, a 20 gauge shotgun from my parents as a Christmas gift when I was about 10 or 12 years old.  I grew up in a family where we ate nearly all wild game common to the area in which we lived and nearly ever male in the family hunted.  We learned to shoot and handle guns in childhood and many of my relatives and neighbors received their first firearm at ages somewhat younger than I.  As a part of this common, every day usage of guns, we all learned gun safety; rules about handling, cleaning, and transporting guns; and, a set of common sayings which I still practice to this day.  Among those sayings were these:
1) assume that every gun is loaded until you have checked it yourself and know otherwise;
2) never point a gun at anything you don't intend to kill;
3) never kill anything you don't intend to eat;
4) always keep guns clean and well cared for.
I grew up in a family where my most distant known ancestor, the Reverend Aulse Hicks, travelled from Western Virginia to the area around Prestonsburg, Kentucky, sometime between the 1790 census and the 1810 census.  I am sure one of the things he felt was necessary for such a trip in that time period was a long rifle and he probably owned a pistol as well.  I could, if I stretched, justify owning a pistol, a 22 rifle, a shotgun, and a heavy rifle for deer hunting.  I do not bother to stretch that far since I have not hunted since a detached retina in my right eye more than twenty years ago.  I have perfect vision in my left eye and could, with some work, retrain myself to shoot effectively enough to hunt with a rifle using a left hand grip and my left eye.  I do not bother to do that.  I can see well enough to shoot an occasional varmint around my house or an intruder, if necessary.    That is all I need guns for and I do not need an arsenal.  Times are very different than they were when Aulse Hicks travelled from Western Virginia two hundred years ago.  Hungry mountain lions, angry native Americans, angry Frenchmen, and angry British holdouts do not roam the hills of Eastern Kentucky.  A plethora of drug addicted thieves do roam these hills; but, it is not necessary for me to be able to kill them all.  I do not need an arsenal.  I do not need fully automatic assault rifles, or high volume clips, or armor piercing ammunition.  I do not need a concealed carry permit.  I do not need the National Rifle Association to assume it has the right to speak on behalf of me and every other American.  What I need in today's world, is a national legislature with enough courage and wisdom to pass an effective, broad ranging, and constitutional ban on fully automatic weapons, assault rifles, armor piercing ammunition, clips which hold over five rounds, purchases of firearms at gun shows without background checks, and purchases of firearms across state lines.
We live in a world today in which the gun culture has become so rampant that most people are being led to believe that unlimited access to all firearms and ammunition is a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.  This is the text of the Second Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The Founding Fathers were very wise in many ways and on many occasions as they began this country.  One of the wisest acts in which they took part was the creation and inclusion of the phrase "well regulated militia".  That phrase gives the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government all the power necessary to fully regulate firearms and all appurtenances connected to them.  Additionally, the common welfare has always been seen by the courts as being sacrosanct in comparison to the limited desires of the few whether it be the desire of a few to drive drunk or own an arsenal of automatic weapons.  As our society and culture have changed over the years, events such as Columbine, Newtown, and a dozen other mass murders along with many assassinations of public figures have clearly pointed out the need to protect the common welfare despite the desire of the National Rifle Association and its followers to own unnecessary and dangerous weapons in an unrestricted manner.  Today's NRA is just as out of step and out of date as the Ku Klux Klan of the 1960's.  Their beliefs and desires are contrary to the public welfare and immediate, decisive action needs to take place place in order to control access to weapons of mass destruction.  We can no longer allow events such as Newtown to take place without making a concerted national effort to stop future such events. 

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