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'Assault rifles' a place to start much-needed discussion

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By Larry Simoneaux
I waited to write about the shootings in Colorado.
I'd waited in hopes of hearing something other than the same rhetoric we've heard on this issue since about forever.
Nope. Not happening. Same arguments. Nothing changes.
I've been around firearms my whole life. I'm a Life Member in the NRA and have been a certified firearms instructor and range safety officer. I was a gunnery officer on a naval destroyer deployed to Vietnam. I've hunted for more than 35 years and am a Hunter Education Instructor for the state of Washington. I own more than a few firearms and reload my own ammunition.
To all of that, add that I'm also someone who's experienced criminal violence within my own and my extended family and who's written many times to defend personal firearm ownership.
That said, I also believe that we (both sides of this issue) can't continue down the road we're on. Never being willing to compromise. Calling anyone with a different opinion either a crazed "gun nut" or an "elitist liberal weenie."
Which is nuts. And "nuts" isn't what's needed right now.
I will always argue for the right of "the people" to own firearms, but I also know that other "people" -- who may or may not think differently -- have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
In the starkest example that I can offer, my right to own and use a firearm has to be balanced by a 6-year-old girl's (the youngest of the dead in the Colorado massacre) right to live. There has to be some sense of proportion, reason, and balance -- not the "never-give-an-inch" attitude that seems to prevail just now.
For the gun control advocates, there has to be a willingness to re-examine beliefs regarding firearms and their use. For example, if "guns kill," then all of the firearms I own are defective because, for lo these many years, they've yet to kill a single person.
For my fellow gun owners, yes, enforcing the laws we already have is, in fact, the way to go, but enforcement of these laws is, far too often, an after-the-fact action that doesn't help prevent the carnage a deranged individual can cause with firearms.
So, where do we start?
I don't pretend to have the answers, but here are two ideas (likely to be eviscerated) regarding "assault rifles" and high capacity magazines that we might use to, at least, begin a conversation:
(1) A semi-automatic rifle -- no matter its caliber or appearance -- is only a semi-automatic rifle. Therefore, instead of banning rifles that resemble their military counterparts, let's consider restricting their magazine capacity.
(2) Instead of outlawing high-capacity magazines, let's consider allowing their use only at gun ranges where they could be rented in a manner similar to ranges where you're allowed to rent and shoot fully automatic weapons.
I know that there will be firearm owners opposed to the above but, if so, let's hear other ideas that would help because - so help me -- I can't make the mental leap that would allow me to look into the face of a young father who's just lost his 6-year-old daughter, and whose wife is now paralyzed, and say: "Sorry, my right to own and use a firearm with a 100-round magazine is absolute." That is its own form of insanity, and, to be honest, I'd just as soon like to keep my teeth.
For the gun control advocates, until we can find a way to guarantee that a police officer will appear immediately whenever and wherever needed (I can't carry a "concealed cop"), please don't expect us to give up the right to protect ourselves should we encounter someone who's bat-freaking-nuts, strung out on drugs, or intent on doing us or ours bodily harm.
Finally, as regards to the perpetrator of this most recent slaughter, I would offer that, since there's no doubt as to either his identity or the fact that he planned it for months, we should exact the retribution (not revenge -- there's a difference) that's appropriate, and send him swiftly to the hell he so richly deserves.
This might give others a moment's pause and, to my mind, doing anything else would be obscene.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds.end comments to:

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