- Cullman, Alabama


December 23, 2012

EDITORIAL: Weapons we don't need

CULLMAN — Americans are engaging in a spirited debate over the availability of assault rifles.

The talk, which has predictably spread to the political arena of Congress and the White House, comes after a young man blasted his way into a Connecticut elementary school and murdered 20 children, the school principal and several teachers.

While evidence is emerging that the shooter was an odd, deeply troubled person, his motive for the deadly attack on children and teachers remains uncertain. In the aftermath of such a horrible act, attention understandably comes back to the availability of assault rifles to the public.

The AR-15 that the shooter used belonged to his mother. He used one of her weapons to kill her early that morning before making his way to the school. Many Americans, in fear of the Second Amendment to the Constitution losing ground, are adamant that even military-type weapons should be available for purchase. But the argument is rightfully losing its hold.

The Second Amendment is highly important to Americans and the establishment of the nation. But we are no longer a nation of militias in danger of a militaristic government storming our homes in the dark of night. And even if the armies of the government descended on our homes today, an AR-15 would do little to stop tanks and well-trained soldiers from winning the day.

In fact, the people have control of the government through elections and the choosing of representatives to serve in Congress. Our military has a long history of serving the public without intrusion in our lives. The idea that citizens need weapons that were specifically designed for the mass killing of people is unfounded. The Second Amendment will not go away if assault rifles are banned or if clips are limited to a few round instead of 30 or more.

While these weapons have no place in society, other issues should also come into focus, such as funding for mental health programs and treatment facilities.

The National Rifle Association’s proposal to place armed police officers in every school is not realistic and ignores the fact that unstable people can easily obtain a weapon that is designed only for killing others. The argument that guns are only dangerous in the hands of the wrong people is weak, simply because the availability of assault weapons makes them easily obtainable by both stable and unstable citizens.

Getting military-style weapons off the streets would be the start of a positive step for society. Addressing the worsening issues in mental health should also be part of the discussion.

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