When I was in grade school in Chicago shortly after World War II, my prized possession was my trusty six-shooter cap gun. As the Lone Ranger I patrolled my neighborhood, fearlessly hunting down the bad guys. Nothing gave me more pleasure than exploding the caps at those bad guys.

Occasionally I took the six-shooter to school and kept it in my desk. That’s what boys did. At recess we got them out and played cops and robbers in the schoolyard. I wanted to be a brave cop. Sometimes I got to be the Lone Ranger.

Where did this love of guns come from?

It wasn’t from television because there were no TVs — or electronic games either. I didn’t read the newspapers, but did listen to my favorite radio programs, like Superman and The Green Hornet, but they featured exciting action and suspense more than guns.

I read comic books, too, and they must have had guns, but I don’t remember them. As boys at play in various sports, we never talked about real guns, and no one had real guns at home. And this was on the south side of Chicago, not terribly far from where President Obama hails from.

In high school mandatory R.O.T.C. we were all issued M-1 rifles; we learned how to take them apart and reassemble them, and hundreds of us would parade on campus with those guns. No one thought anything about it. We felt no need at home for any World War II weapons, including handguns, to protect ourselves — not even my brother, a veteran of that war.

None of my family, myself included, has ever owned a gun. None of our friends owned guns. None of us ever felt threatened by the government or bad guys. Nor did we go hunting, leaving the killing of animals to others more suited to the task.

What in heaven’s name has transformed us into a society in which the media feed us a steady and disturbing diet of gun violence, and whose citizens so desperately feel the need for guns to protect themselves? The Second Amendment has become like the word of God, and not a day goes by that it’s not fiercely debated in the media. It’s become the public face of the Constitution, and woe be to the person who might question its continuing need. It would be like questioning God.

What we were shortly after World War II we’ll never be again. We’ve lost our innocence, and innocence once lost is lost forever. It saddens me to say it, but I think the arc of American history bends to more violence and more guns. I have no quarrel with much of the proposed legislation to curb gun violence, but the arc of history, in my view, will not move even inches toward a more peaceful future. Bullets, once fired, cannot be recalled.

George Evans lives in Forest Grove.

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