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Both sides of the gun debate are full of baloney

I don’t like guns. Never have.

Don’t really want them around the house, and I don’t believe for a minute that owning a gun improves my odds one bit of retaining the freedoms afforded me by the U.S. Constitution.

I am convinced, though, that almost every argument that has blown up since the rash of crazy-person shootings in recent weeks is hysterical, wrong and ill-advised.

This applies to the NRA’s adamant refusal to consider anything that might infringe on the rights of gun owners AND the insistence by most of my liberal friends that we need more laws to protect us.

Pretty much every argument I’ve heard — from either side of the issue — has been full of baloney.

Let’s start with the National Rifle Association.

Just shut up — please. Don’t say anything, because when you do, it just makes you sound like a paranoid, gun-totin’ fool.

We all have the right to bear arms, and a year from now we will still have that right, so stop pretending that the leaders of our country are somehow going to trick all the honest, God-fearing citizens out of their personal weapons.

All you do when you argue this point is sound like you didn’t actually hear about all those first-graders who were shot multiple times by a complete lunatic.

This is an unwinnable argument, so just this one time, take the high road and keep your mouth shut.

Now, everybody else on the side of more gun control (outlawing assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, tougher registration, etc.), you also need to shut up because many, many of you don’t know what you’re talking about.

There is one easy place to go to fix blame of course — the media.

And you, my journalistic brethren, should be ashamed of yourselves. You, perhaps more than anyone, should know better. All these bogus arguments we’re hearing from extremists on both sides are being perpetuated by news people who should be investigating the subject matter and shining some light on things — but mostly they’re not. Instead, we’re perfectly content to repeat allegations and accusations and holier-than-thou observations by the kind of loud, obnoxious boobs that always dominate a conversation.

I ran across a refreshingly truthful and un-hysterial piece online, written by Matt Pressberg, a master’s candidate in print journalism at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, called “What the Media Gets Wrong About Guns.” The article, written for Editor & Publisher, makes three very good points:

1. “Semi-automatic rifles are not battlefield weapons or machine guns.”

2. “Assault weapon bans target guns based on appearance, and not on any higher destructive potential or disproportionate influence on gun violence.”

3. States with higher rates of gun ownership do tend to have higher rates of gun violence, but it’s important not to confuse this correlation with causation.”

Of course, Mr. Pressberg goes to some length to explain all three of these points, so I recommend reading the whole article to get the full picture (ojr.org/ojr/people/impressberg/201301/2099/), but I can’t resist chiming in on a couple of points.

“Failing to understand the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons is probably the most common and most amateur mistake journalists have made when reporting on guns,” says Pressberg.

Pretty much anyone who’s ever shot a .22 or a deer rifle out back or at a range knows that semi-automatic merely means that every time you pull the trigger, a bullet comes out of the barrel. The only difference between this kind of gun and those scary-looking things we keep seeing on TV is cosmetic. The .22 caliber rifle I used to shoot at my neighbor’s house is no different than the semi-automatic civilian model AR-15 except in looks.

These are not machine guns. Machine guns have been outlawed for years.

It’s almost a certainty at this point that the Obama administration, with the help of numerous outraged citizen groups and even some assistance from members of the Republican Party are going to succeed in getting a law passed that will crack down on certain freedoms. High-capacity magazines are sure to take a hit, as is our ability to buy a gun anywhere we choose without having it registered. And you know what? I don’t really care.

I wouldn’t care if this move failed because I know in my heart of hearts this is not what’s going to stop nuts from shooting people in public places. We already have lots of laws about this sort of thing, and the people doing it break them all.

Criminals, terrorists and lunatics all will continue to do bad things because they do not care about laws. Only law-abiding people do.

But, I also have no sympathy for those crying their eyes out over their eroded rights.

Come on, people, look around. We have to get driver’s licenses to drive cars and hunting licenses to shoot animals. And my freedom of speech does not allow me the right to cry “fire” in a crowded theater.

We have all kinds of restrictions on our freedoms that our founding fathers probably did not anticipate 200-plus years ago.

Get over it.

Former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times, The Times as well as the Lake Oswego Review, Kelly is now chief of the central editing and design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.




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