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Letter: The terrorists within

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On Sept. 11, 2001, the Trade Center was attacked and destroyed, 3,000 innocent people were lost and the country launched into an anti-terror campaign that led us into two unnecessary, unwinnable wars, (6,000 killed, 60,000 wounded, hundreds of thousands innocent Afghan/Iraqi people killed and wounded), created a new unnecessary government agency called Homeland Security, and passed an unnecessary Patriot Act among other things.

This $4 trillion response to the 9/11 attack was done while reducing government revenues under the Bush tax cuts (another $3 trillion), relaxing regulations on Wall Street, and disregarding defense contracting rules allowing single, sole source contracting to large firms.

And yes, we haven’t had a terrorist attack of that magnitude from outside our borders since 9/11, Boston not withstanding. But what about the terrorists within?

In December 2012, 20 children and 6 adults were slaughtered in a barrage of bullets from an assault rifle that tore apart the small bodies of 5, 6,and 7 year olds – the actual carnage which is too horrible to conceive or show. In the aftermath analysis, we find there are about 100 murders, 35-75 by gunfire, every day in the United States.

Why haven’t we been able to do something about it? Three letters, NRA, and the political power the agency has over elected officials responsible for passing common sense firearm control and related public safety laws. They use the second amendment to cover their arguments. What we have learned and now appreciate is that most gun owners don’t belong to the NRA and 80 percent of those who do belong agree with responsible, common sense gun ownership regulations.

There are only two reasons for private ownership of firearms which will never be infringed upon. They are self-protection and hunting. The third reason, recreation, opens the door to exotic weapons such as assault rifles, which serve no useful purpose in a civil society.

Relative to self-protection, in a recent year’s data sampling, there were approximately 200 gun-related self-defense incidents compared to approximately 36,000 deaths, a 180/1 ratio. Statistics also show people who have firearms are 22 times more likely for they or a member of their household to be killed accidently, commit suicide or be murdered.

So where is the argument to have guns for personal safety? Maybe there is a better way to address the problem that is a win-win situation for both public safety and the gun industry itself. Exotic guns used for recreational purposes would be kept only in gun clubs with firing ranges, the only safe places to use them. A combination of government, gun and ammunition manufacturers, and NRA could expand the sites, establish standard rules and guidelines, and members/users would pay dues and fees to repay the investment and maintain the facilities. Individuals could either own a recreational class gun kept securely on-site or use firearms available at the club.

Technology would also make this more attractive. Virtual targets such as wild animals, game of every variety, intruder profiles, military enemies … could be selected as targets and accuracy measured to provide feedback essential to maintain and enhance proficiency.

Gun clubs are in the same class as golf, fishing, sailing … any number of sports that require going to an external facility away from home. Manufacturers could still make and sell weapons of most types, dealers could sell them under reasonable guidelines, and owners/users would have a safe and interesting place to exercise their passion.

Lee Purrier

Park Rapids

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