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Guns aren’t the problem, people are

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By Becky Barnes, editor

By Becky Barnes

I have heard and read all the hype about guns and the need for legislation. I have seen the Facebook posts that declare that “Guns don’t kill, people do.”
What’s the answer to gun violence?
I grew up around guns. My dad and grandfather made certain that my brother and I had a healthy respect for all weapons.
We learned how to shoot with accuracy. How to secure a weapon, break it down and clean it.
Now, 40 years later and not having spent much time since around weapons, some of those lessons might be a little stale.
However, it doesn’t matter how long it has been since I was around guns, I still know that just because I could hold a loaded .357 Magnum in my hand, didn’t mean I would feel compelled to use it to harm others. Most gun owners have a shared respect and responsibility of what it means to own a gun. There are a rogue few who have no respect for anything ... especially human life.
The Smith & Wesson 29 was made popular by Clint Eastwood in the late 1970s Dirty Harry movie series. And, for avid gun collectors, no collection was complete without the “Do you feel lucky, Punk” revolver.
About the same time, Dirty Harry was shooting up bad guys in the movies, Colt lost its patent on the AR-15 rifles, which opened the market for other manufacturers, which, in turn, allowed purchases by individual gun enthusiasts.
There are an estimated 10-12 million AR rifles in the United States. The AR, despite many claims, stands for ArmaLite Rifle, after the original manufacturer and not “assault” or “automatic.”
An assault rifle is fully automatic such as a machine gun. An AR 15 is semiautomatic and doesn’t meet federal requirements to be classified as an assault rifle.
Part of the confusion about the AR-style rifles is that they look so much like the M-16 machine guns.
The AR-style rifles were originally designed for the military, but the 1970s open patent changed all that.
I dare say that the manufacturer of any weapon doesn’t want to see it misused or in the hands of someone with mental health issues.
Again, despite what many would have us believe, gun ownership and mental health problems do not go hand in hand.
There has to be an answer to the mass shootings that have occurred in schools and shopping centers and restaurants. I don’t believe that rewriting the Constitution is that answer. I also don’t believe that arming teachers is the answer.
Perhaps it’s education and going back to ingraining that healthy respect. In any home where guns are present there should be a continued education about the guns. They are not toys.
It saddens me that guns were used in so many of these instances. But I also know that someone intent on widespread killings doesn’t need a gun.
Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured many more when he strapped explosives to the back of a rental truck on April 19, 1995. He parked it in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building, lit a two-minute fuse and walked away. McVeigh’s only regret was that there were 19 children inside the federal building who were killed.
He told reporters he wasn’t aware there was a day care on the second floor or he might have chosen a different target.
Also, to counter my colleague Lee Kendall’s column from last week, flamethrowers and tanks are legal to own.