LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Responsibility is key when owning a gun

On April 6, a letter entitled “A dangerous vigil” was published by a very concerned gentleman.

He related that he had loaded his 1911 .45 caliber pistol with 10 rounds in the magazine/(clip) and one round in the chamber and put it atop his dresser. He kept watch for three (days and) nights and it hadn’t moved.

He wrote: “Truly it is a weapon of mass destruction…” He related that he felt anxious because many people and teenagers warned that “…it will climb off the dresser…to fulfill its blood lust.” He further writes that “… someday it will arise and ruthlessly kill eleven innocent people.”

His pistol is a semi-automatic, which will fire as quickly as one can trigger it. It is not an AR-15, made by ArmaLite and Colt, a Bushmaster, or a Smith and Wesson M&P15 et al. These are the weapons that were banned for 10 years. They were designed as semi-automatic, like his pistol.

However, bump stocks, cranking devices and other modifications enable rapid fire. It is these modified weapons, along with high-capacity magazines that have proved particularly dangerous. The 85 killed, 851 wounded, and over 1,100 rounds fired in 10 minutes in Las Vegas should leave little doubt. These modified weapons are what millions of people worldwide protested, not one’s semi-automatic pistol, rifle or shotgun.

When I was a youth, my father kept two shotguns in the cellar and a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol in a dresser drawer. None was loaded. (I found the pistol but not the loaded magazine he said he had.) I don’t remember finding shells for the shotguns. He would buy some before he went hunting. We never kept a “vigil” because we knew that only a person would make them dangerous to other humans.

I respect responsible firearm owners who secure their unloaded pistols, shotguns, rifles and ammunition. There have been too many instances of children finding and playing with loaded weapons who accidentally shot and/or killed themselves or another child because they thought they found a toy. I assume that this writer is far more responsible than his well-written fable suggests. I’m sure that this loaded and deadly pistol is not sitting on his dresser. It could be dangerous should human hands grab it.

Firearms on display in stores, at gun shows, or secured in homes are not killers by themselves. People make them deadly. Comprehensive background checks that prevent people who are a danger to themselves or to others, and similar checks at gun shows and private sales, are needed. High-capacity magazines should be restricted to the military or police. Devices that enable the rapid-fire of semi-automatic weapons should be banned and/or confiscated.

Despite the claims of the NRA and others, there have been no proposals that would take legal firearms away from law-abiding and responsible people. Stores are required to check ID before selling tobacco and alcohol to “young” people. Motor vehicles must be registered and inspected when purchased. Limits on magazines, on ammunition sales and comprehensive checks before firearm purchases are reasonable steps. Banning add-on devices or modifications that enable rapid fire are essential.

I sincerely believe that responsible owners don’t leave loaded firearms lying around for anyone to grab and make their gravest nightmares come true.

Alan Gaddis

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