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Voice of the People

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

More must be done to help mentally ill

A friend of mine threw out that old canard: "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

The problem is that it isn't "outlaws" who massacre; it's madmen.

Professional criminals will be able to find a way around any law but the shooters at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora and Newtown were all mentally disturbed people without the skills of professional criminals. They were able to commit massacres only because they had easy access to semi-automatic weapons with large magazines.

No law will prevent madmen from trying, but limiting access to rapid-fire weapons and large magazines will make it harder to kill so many people so quickly. That IS a worthy goal.

No one uses such weapons for hunting. There are only two reasons for owning semi-automatic rifles and large magazines: (1) to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible and (2) they're "more fun" at the shooting range. One acquaintance used the second as reason enough for having the weapon even knowing that so many have died. That "trade-off" is simply beyond the pale.

We need to study the nature and causes of gun violence and why we suffer so much more of it here than in any other developed nation. We need to reform mental health care and deal more effectively with the deranged. We need to demand universal background checks and hold responsible the gun sellers who fail to do so. There is no single solution to this problem, but we must not fail to do something until we succeed in doing everything. That simply will never occur.

I don't want to repeal the Second Amendment, but the rights enshrined therein must have some sensible restrictions, just as does every other right enshrined in the rest of our Constitution.

Michael K. Waggoner

Proctorville, Ohio

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