Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 20, 2013

Rifles not weapons of mass destruction


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The May 6 response to Smokey Shott’s April 16 opinion on proposed federal gun-control legislation troubles me. “I personally believe that the [S]econd [A]mendment affords us the right to own firearms,” the letter writer wrote. Fine, but no belief required. The Constitution states it. The Supreme Court affirms it through McDonald v. Chicago and D.C. v. Heller.

 “I do not subscribe to the conservative mentality that this right should be devoid of common-sense limitations,” the writer added. In what I consider insulting non-sensible generalization, his casual announcement insinuated conservatives — assumably, all — dismiss and/or reject common sense regarding gun ownership. No.

 “It is time that we started really regulating firearms for what they are — weapons made to kill,” the writer declared. Yes, they can and have. But do skeet-only and other sport shooters, collegiate rifle teams and the USA Olympic Shooting Team “kill” their targets?

Regardless, “really regulating” equals Newspeak to me. Translated, it means more restrictions on responsible law-abiding citizens, while furthering gun traffickers, criminals and others like them in potential or actual lethal activities.

“The purpose behind proposed limitations on magazine capacity and assault weapon ownership is to keep those weapons out of the hands of those who may use them for their intended purpose, which is to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time,” he also wrote. With that, the writer discounts some owners exercising their desire — and freedom — to choose if and how they might be better equipped than those who signal harm or who are trying to harm the owners and their families.

Regarding magazine-capacities restrictions, in their detestable terrible actions, the morally and psychologically deranged murderers in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., would’ve needed only more less-capacity magazines to dodge those.

My real annoyance came, though, when I read: “It is time for the gun owners of America to acknowledge that their right to own a firearm does not translate to the right to own a weapon of mass destruction, such as those used in Aurora or Newtown.”

Gratefully, I acknowledge the Bill of Rights, including its Second Amendment. I accept that it preserves, not grants, our right own firearms, including handguns, shotguns and rifles. And I fully agree that those in untrained, criminal and/or psychologically imbalanced hands mean danger and potential murder or manslaughter.   

But I firmly reject that civilian rifles are WMDs. Those include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. Such overblown language, as the writer used, trivializes WMDs’ terror. It also cheapens, for example, the deaths of thousands killed by Saddam Hussein and the Syrian government with chemical weapons.

Calling a civilian rifle a WMD also degrades culture and language. The Department of the Army’s handling of the Ft. Hood, Texas, massacre illustrates this. The Army calls “workplace violence” the killing of 12 unarmed soldiers — including an unborn in a slain female soldier — and a civilian, as well as the wounding of 32 others by pistol-wielding jihadist Maj. Nidal Hasan. He was not a disgruntled worker. The victims and survivors are casualties of terrorists’ global war, like those at the Boston Marathon.

Gross exaggerations like calling civilian rifles WMDs — and politically correct hooey like the Army’s — distort reality. They also hinder meaningful dialogue and solutions.

C. Kenna Amos Jr.

Princeton