>   To the Editor,
   Tony Ahern's editorial on gun control strikes me as a reasonable and thoughtful assessment.
   I've been a gun owner and hunter for over five decades. Some of my fondest memories are of my dad in the deer woods above Parkdale and laying decoys in the duck marshes outside Boardman. He taught me the basic principles of conservation, game preparation and gun safety. His old 12-gauge double gun is among my most prized possessions. The thought of anyone, especially the government, taking my guns away is disturbing to put it mildly.
   But I don't hear anyone talking about that, and frankly, I never have. What's truly unsettling is the National Rifle Association's stance on gun control. To think they waited an entire week after the Connecticut massacre to make a measured response and then recommeneded placing armed guards in all our schools places them somewhere to the right of Pluto and slightly beneath the lowest rung of rational thought.
   While banning assualt weapons and banana clips won't solve all our problems, the time to move forward on fair-minded gun control is now. Banning assault weapons won't lead to the confiscation of our sporting arms, but it may move the country towards a larger discussion on mental health, violence-based entertainment, and better background checks on gun buyers. If banning assault weapons nationwide would save one child, one teacher, one movie-goer, or one department store shopper it would be well worth the effort.
   Thirty years ago, most of us were smokers. Public opinion brought a lot of people to their senses and made a positive difference. The same is true of seatbelts. We worked together and saved thousand of lives. We can do it again and it won't require any great sacrifice.
   Bill Rhoades
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