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Article published February 7, 2013
Arsenal not a right
Laurie J. Kubli, WorthingtonFormerly of Butler
When I was 4, I slept with a plastic gun. When I was 10, I wore camouflage and played army behind my house. As an adult, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. I learned to take apart and reassemble a deadly weapon with a high-capacity magazine. I was trained for many hours before a round ever entered the chamber. Safety was emphasized, as was the importance of taking responsibility for one’s weapon. As I read the many letters to the Butler Eagle, I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking when they insist that their “right” to own as many weapons as they want is more important than the right of others to live. The stated reasons are many: The “Feds” are going to come to my house and steal my guns. I need them for hunting. I collect them. I must admit that I’ve never heard anyone say, “I need multiple rapid-fire killing machines to murder dozens of people at the mall, the movie theater, or at an elementary school, or any number of other venues where people expect to gather safely.” Recently an article appeared in the Eagle that took a slightly different stance — that being the morality involved in permitting tens of thousands of Americans to be slaughtered in a given year, in order to maintain a right that, at best, is not clearly delineated in the Constitution’s Second Amendment. What part of my neighbor owning a dozen or more AR-15s, capable of firing 30 rounds in less than a minute, applies to “a well-regulated militia”? Does anyone seriously believe the “Feds” are organized enough (nevermind the inherent paranoia evident in that belief) to arrange to confiscate the estimated 300 million weapons U.S. citizens own? Then there’s the hunting argument. If someone must shoot an animal from 100 yards away, two rounds should do it, if one really considers himself or herself a hunter. Last but not least is the “collector.” My dad used to collect coins. Coins are not deadly. If a person collects deadly weapons, should they not be registered, to give legitimacy to the collection? Cars kill people. No, wait: It’s the person driving the car who drinks and drives, didn’t get enough sleep, was texting, etc. In order to legally drive a car, one must do all of the following: Pass a written permit test; pass a driving test; register one’s car, annually in Pennsylvania; have the car inspected for safety, annually; not break laws, such as the law prohibiting driving under the influence; and maintain insurance. Cars serve the legitimate purpose of getting us from point A to point B. Yet, we are required to be responsible, or lose that privilege. Yes, universal background checks do help. People who know they should not have guns know they can acquire them hassle-free at a gun show. Forty percent of all gun purchases are illegal; many of those are so-called “straw” purchases. One thing that would discourage a person from purchasing a gun for someone else (who may or may not be permitted to own one) is to make the buyer equally liable for crimes committed with that weapon. Owning an arsenal is not a right. I always have liked guns and do not begrudge other responsible owners their deadly possessions, but there comes a time when responsibility must come into play. That time is now.