The ink had hardly dried on the first editions of newspapers across the country with the horrific story from Newtown, Conn., when the knee-jerk reactions soon followed.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York wasted no time blaming President Barack Obama for lax gun controls that, he said, allowed a deranged young man to kill 20 children, six adults, and then himself, all before authorities could stop him.
Bloomberg conveniently forgot to mention that Connecticut has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country. He didn’t comment on the fact that the young man who did the killing had been denied a gun permit just a few days before the shooting. He didn’t say a word about the deranged killer apparently stealing the guns from his mother, who lawfully obtained them. He didn’t mention that she was in fact the first victim of this disturbed killer.
The National Rifle Association was strangely silent, saying it would comment when the time was right. Last week it did come out with what it called a solution and a slogan that plays right into the hands of those who think a heavily armed populace is the only solution.
Put an armed police officer in every school in the country, the NRA said.
“The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, an NRA official said, just as serious as he could be.
We don’t intend to take a stand on either side of this hot-button issue today. We want to read more, to understand more, to perhaps even listen more to folks on both sides of gun-control before we take a hard and fast rule on the topic.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is sacred to many. They believe it gives citizens of the United States unlimited access to any type of weapon they want.
We respectfully disagree with that position. But neither do we believe that the Second Amendment should be repealed, that any type of gun ownership by citizens is a direct threat to the Republic.
In households all across the country shotguns are found in ample numbers. They usually start with .410, then graduate to a 20-gauge, or a 12 or a 16, depending on the type of game being hunted. Then there are the handguns. Used to be that a five or six-hot revolver was found in bedside tables all across the country. The gun was there for self-defense, and the homeowner felt somewhat safer with a lethal weapon within easy reach.
Now, semi-automatic pistols have replaced many of the revolvers. These powerful 9 mm pistols pack a lot of punch and hold many more bullets than the revolvers.
We certainly don’t favor confiscating the shotguns or the handguns purchased for self-defense.
But we have no problem with gun registration, or with background checks that would show criminal backgrounds, or mental health problems in folks who want to buy a gun.
Such rules are already in place in many jurisdictions, but not all. And there is little or no background check at local gun shows, where firearms change hands each weekend.
The trickier question comes with high-powered assault rifles, like the one used in Connecticut. These weapons are easily converted to fully automatic weapons, but even without the conversion they can spew bullets by the hundreds, laying down a field of fire that is deadly to a group of six-year-olds getting ready for Christmas.
We see no need for those weapons. They are not sporting rifles, used to hunt deer or elk or other big game. Their only purpose is to kill human beings, and it takes a warped interpretation of the Second Amendment to justify their legality.
So, we obviously have some problems with the legality of high-powered rifles used only to kill people. At the same time, we support the right of citizens to own certain firearms whether for sporting use, or for self-defense.
The Second Amendment is a tricky one. Its supporters and detractors are fueled by emotion and fundamental distrust and dislike for each other. It is time to talk this out, to find a way to come together in a meaningful way that helps solve this problem. That conversation needs to start now.