Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:14PM - 123 Views
Bailey Richards
Cris Ritchie

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This nation has needed to hold a conversation for some time. We needed it after Columbine and countless other senseless school shootings that have left dozens of people dead. And now we need it again, after several people were gunned down by an apparently unhinged 20-year-old armed in part with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Twenty first grade students were murdered, as were six adults at that elementary school last week in Newtown, Ct.

Not surprisingly, in the hours that followed this tragedy on Friday, many people took to social media to declare their support for guns, while others again advocated for stricter gun laws. Politicians did the same.

But for us, it’s hard to imagine, on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, why anyone outside of the military would have need of an assault rifle. Is there any need for a Bushmaster semiautomatic, like the one used last week in Newtown, to shoot a deer or elk? Is there any need for an AK-47 to hunt for bears in the Pacific Northwest?

Of course not.

We’re big believers in our Constitution. The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms, and it’s an important amendment and one that we should uphold. We should have the right to own weapons, whether it be for personal protection or recreational uses such as hunting.

But there’s nowhere in the Constitution that says we can’t place limits, and at some point we have to draw the line. How many more Newtowns are we willing to endure before, as a nation, we begin to seriously discuss the uselessness of a private citizen owning a combat-style assault rifle? It may not be a popular stance to take in this neck of the woods, but it’s high time our elected leaders do something meaningful when it comes to gun laws.

Will a ban on assault rifles fully prevent future school shootings? We doubt it. We’re at a loss as to why anyone would enter a school and open fire on innocent children, and last week’s tragedy is one that no one should ever have to endure. In truth, however, as long as there are guns there are people who will use them to murder others, and in America there will always be guns.

But at the same time we should be using some common sense when it comes to our gun laws.

There are also calls at present for more action on mental health issues in the wake of last week’s shooting, and that could be a good thing as well. But something we can do quickly is put into place a ban on assault rifles. It’s needed, and has been for some time.

— The Hazard Herald

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