The epidemic of mass shootings unique to our country sickens me. Kindergartners slaughtered in classrooms. Parishioners in churches. Shoppers massacred.

I am also sickened by the failure to make even simple, common sense changes to gun laws. A week after a shooting, it’s forgotten. Firearms are the second leading cause of death of American children and teens. Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than in other developed countries.

Universal background checks are supported by 90% of Americans, yet Mitch McConnell won’t even bring it up for discussion, let alone a vote. The mystifyingly feared NRA opposes any and all sensible measures. The organization has been taken over by zealots. It spends millions of membership dollars a month on just chief executive Wayne LaPierre. A varying salary as high as $5 million, $200,000 a month on his private jet, $200,000 for his wardrobe of which he spent $39,000 in one day at a posh Beverly Hills boutique, a mansion (the NRA sent a $70,000 deposit check for a $6.5 million mansion in Texas, but his wife said the master bedroom men’s closet was too small and the deal was cancelled), flying his wife’s personal hairdresser around the country to serve her.

I do not want to confiscate all guns and there is no movement to do so, but the NRA would have you believe that absurd idea. They have grossly misquoted people or actually made things up to back their claim. I am a responsible gun owner who has had military training with many weapons and many hours of professional civilian training in the safe use of handguns. But I support common sense limitations. I do not support military-style weapons. How many rounds do you need in a magazine to hunt deer or even fire at the range?

Asinine slogans sicken me as much as the carnage. “Guns don’t kill people -- people do.” People who should not have guns are killing people. “It’s a mental health issue.” Mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims. The overwhelming majority of mass shooters are very angry white males who are American citizens. Anger itself is not a mental illness. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is by a good guy with a gun.” Six police officers recently wounded by one bad guy show it can take an army of good guys to stop one bad guy. So stop with the slogans and give me data, peer reviewed science, and historical evidence.

I live in the real world. I have met real people with violent tempers who should not have guns. A good guy friend of mine with a gun was shot and killed by a bad guy with a gun. A friend’s girlfriend’s mother was shot and killed by her husband. My ex-neighbor’s husband held a gun to her head and threatened her.

My guns are not my religion. Whose rights should we really protect?

Vic Spadaccini

Grand Rapids

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