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Mark Caserta: Emotions can't trump common sense in gun debate

Dec. 26, 2012 @ 10:10 PM

The recent, horrific shootings in Connecticut have re-kindled a national debate on gun control and understandably so.

President Obama has confirmed he would support a bill to ban assault rifles and has called on Congress to pass common sense legislation that has the support of a majority of Americans.

I confess, I couldn't hit a keystroke on this topic before today. As a father of three boys, the thought of those frightened children staring down a gun as a lunatic fired off multiple rounds at each of them was simply incomprehensible.

After thoughtful consideration, I believe it's time to set aside the partisan politics and emotion on the issue of gun control and indeed pursue "common sense" legislation.

Unfortunately our government has consistently demonstrated difficulty with that concept.

Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has pledged to table a bill on January 3 that would ban at least 100 military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, and would curb the transfer, importation and the possession of such arms.

A number of knowledgeable weapons experts have helped me understand the problems associated with this planned legislation.

First, what is an assault weapon today? Is it determined by the gun's caliber, the size of the ammunition or the number of rounds a gun holds in the magazine? Does a 25 shot clip versus a 10 shot clip constitute an assault weapon? What about its design features or its physical appearance?

Just because a gun "looks" like an assault weapon used by the military doesn't make it one!

Over time, the military has developed weapons ergonomically designed to enable a soldier to carry, fire and clean their gun more efficiently and many of these features have simply been adopted by gun manufacturers.

So how would legislation banning these guns competently identify an "assault weapon"?

Regarding the legislation's constitutionality, our Founding Fathers didn't write the Second Amendment so people could have the right to go hunting or shoot target practice. Their declaration protecting a citizen's right to bear arms was written to protect the people from the tyranny of government!

I'm sure the British Parliament would have loved to successfully impose a ban on guns on the American colonies!

Banning a weapon because of its efficiency will not deter a maniac from finding a way to kill someone. And psychopaths determined to kill typically look for "soft" targets or areas where "guns are not permitted".

Common sense dictates more lives could be saved with legislation permitting trained, armed security in these type locations. Knowing what we know, it would be irresponsible for us "not" to allow armed security in our schools -- immediately.

Understand, if assault weapons are banned, only two segments of the population will have them -- criminals and the government!

Any move to restrict a law-abiding citizen from protecting themselves against an increasing number of disturbed individuals or even the government would be unconstitutional and could actually result in an increased number of violent acts in our country.

We mustn't let emotion override a common sense approach to protecting our citizens and adhering to the Constitution.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.



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