After seeing and reading about us firearm enthusiasts being continually trashed in the news and reading the recent opinions in the Herald-Review I feel compelled to respond. I have been a hunter and shooter for 55 years. First of all, almost every firearm ever invented was as a weapon of war after which it would also be used for personal protection, hunting and target shooting. Your deer rifles were once designs of weapons of war. Many people started the shooting sports here in the U.S. with WWII bring backs or surplus guns. AR-15 rifles for civilians are semiautomatic, requiring a trigger pull each time you fire. The only difference between them and other semi-auto rifles is looks and aesthetics.

The AR stands for Armalite Rifle, not Assault Rifle as some would have you believe. The round it fires, while recently approved for deer hunting is generally regarded as not powerful enough for clean kills on this or bigger game. The vaunted Browning Automatic Rifle used by the U.S. in several wars fires the 30-06 cartridge which is one of the most popular hunting calibers ever. Every other deer caliber made is far more lethal than this round. While non-owners will claim there is no purpose for them, I would like to point out that millions of people own them for varmint hunting, target shooting, competition and to some degree personal protection. The Second Amendment does not distinguish between how a gun looks. And your First Amendment rights exist because of the Second Amendment.

The NRA is no different than AARP or other organizations in that people join an organization to promote or protect their rights. For you non-members who say they haven’t taken our guns, it’s because the NRA with over 5 million members and similar organizations have been fighting for your rights. What has changed over time is lot’s of people feel no personal responsibility for their actions and the political correctness. There are hundreds of gun laws on the books the criminals ignore now.

Criminals don’t follow the law, liberal judges don’t enforce the law and the major media outlets love to blast tragedy all over. This just results in crazy, suicidal, copycat murderers getting the national exposure they crave. If you are a bad guy with a gun and nobody else has one when you start shooting, it doesn’t matter what weapon it is. Using the premise of saving lives let’s outlaw cars, knives, baseball bats, motorcycles, alcohol etc. There are far more deaths from blunt object trauma than firearms and the places in the U.S. with the strictest laws have the worst murder rates, mostly gang violence. Maybe we should change the 1st Amendment so that anything someone publishes as fact and then is found to be spreading wrong information should be punished. If you don’t believe there can be government over-reach, look to Great Britain, Australia and recently New Zealand. When someone wants to take a certain kind of gun it’s just an incremental move before they take the next one until there are none.

Jeff Bishop

Grand Rapids

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