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Voice of the people

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Time for majority to speak up on guns

Twenty-seven human beings were murdered in Newtown, Conn.; 20 of them were 6 and 7 years old.

The assassin used a machine gun, a Bushmaster AR-15. Not a hunting weapon.

The NRA president responded by arguing that every school in the country should have armed personnel. His thesis, to paraphrase, "the best defense against bad guys with weapons is good guys with weapons." A "Wild West" mentality that has no place in a civilized society.

The solution is complicated. Certainly the mentality of "guns" should be addressed. Much of our country has hunters of game, West Virginia most prominently. (I owned a shotgun and hunted back in England in my youth.) But why so many handguns in private possession and why assault weapons? More people have been killed by firearms in our country than all of our soldiers in all the foreign wars since 1914.

The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 when we were still a fragile country fearing external and internal threats. These conditions no longer apply. Time to repeal this section.

Certainly there have been horrific civilian massacres abroad, in countries with strict gun controls. But, in our country, it has become "routine."

One cannot prevent an individual committing an act of mass murder in a democratic society, but we can try to reduce the occurrence by implementing the existing laws, and extending them, for purchasing firearms (i.e., background checks and the waiting period, including at "gun-show" sales); outlawing assault weapons generally; by investing in the study and treatment of mental illness; and by educating the citizenry that protection resides not in the gun but in the law.

The NRA membership accounts for only 12 percent of the American population. About time the other 88 percent raised their voices, despite the NRA's powerful lobby in Washington D.C.

Nicholas Freidin

Huntington

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