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At least I hope so.  It seems the current strategy to foil attempts to bring some sanity to the US gun control debate is for towns to require — yes, you read it right (sic) — every household to own a firearm.  In Maine, voters in the town of Byron unanimously rejected a proposal  that would have required every household to own a firearm and ammunition. Backers explained that the point of the unenforceable measure was to send a message to state and federal lawmakers trying to pass gun control laws.

In Nelson, Georgia, a city of 1,300 residents, which employs only a single police officer, has recently passed a law requiring the head of each household to own a gun “as a way to keep crime down.”  The ordinance was approved unanimously by the City Council in Nelson.  Admittedly, the gesture is merely symbolic as there is no penalty for violating it.   It is meant to serve as an expression of support for gun rights and send a message to would-be criminals (Presumably, the message to criminals is “there are guns to steal here,” as homeowners are unlikely to be home for the break-in).  Just for good measure, the law exempts convicted felons, residents with physical and mental disabilities, and those who do not believe in owning firearms.

Yet again we see the madness that inevitably accompanies the debate over gun laws in the United States.  This latest folly comes after the December shooting rampage in which a gunman killed 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.  How many people have to die from guns before the NRA and its devoted followers lose credibility over its reliance on a bizarre interpretation of the Second Amendment?

Written at a time when no one had even conceived the idea of the sort of high-powered automatic weapons now readily available in America, the right to “keep and bear arms” was relevant to an entirely different social environment, not to mention very different weapon technology.  If the Constitution is to continue to serve American citizens well, it must be relevant to current needs.

The arguments offered in support of owning guns for the protection of one’s home and family fail to pursuade me that a high-powered automatic weapon is needed.  Nor have I ever seen any evidence that a significant amount of life or property has been appropriately “saved” or protected by the ownership of such weapons.  On the other hand, there are mounting statistics showing that the availability of automatic weapons can — and does — result in the killing of large numbers of innocent people very quickly.

Owning a gun — especially a high-powered automatic — for the protection of one’s self, family, and property, presupposes that any threat will occur at the right time and place where one can access and use his gun of choice. Any weapons in the homes and trucks of the families of those killed in schools, theaters, shopping centers, and on public streets were of no use when needed.  How many times do gun owners actually get to use their guns appropriately in the protection of house and home?  It’s a theoretical argument, supporting a deadly reality.

Those who mount an argument in favor of unrestricted gun ownership for sporting reasons have likewise failed to explain why high-powered automatic weapons are needed for their sport.  I’m betting the only reason one would need an automatic weapon is because s/he is such a lousy shot that s/he needs to be able to cut a wide swathe in order to hit the target.   Pathetic.

Politicians don’t often have the opportunity to take a stand that actually saves lives (at home, anyway). Are your elected representatives counted amongst those brave enough and compassionate enough to take a stand for the protection of citizens from high-powered automatic weapons? Or are they among those who will continue to pander to the gun lobby?           MM