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As a professional scribbler of news and stuff like this, I embrace the First Amendment.

As a recreational gun owner, I wrap my arms around the Second Amendment, too.

But I am enough of a realist to admit that when it comes to the first two amendments to the Constitution, I am not an absolutist.

It's illegal to threaten to kill the president. Talking about bombs at an airport will get you arrested. Maliciously yelling, "Fire," in a crowd is a sure-fire path to a jail cell.

The courts have held that those are not protected by the free speech portion of the document ratified in 1791 and known as the Bill of Rights. I can live with that.

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As a non-absolutist, I've also come to believe that high-capacity clips of ammunition, the type used in Tucson on Jan. 8, are unnecessary in a civilized society.

And I think it's time we talk about it.

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Notice, I didn't say ban. I didn't say confiscate. I didn't say register.

Talk. Like, you say something and I won't interrupt and then I say something and you won't interrupt. And we do it in our best church vestibule voices. Oh yes, and we try to listen.

Yet, when it comes to a discussion of how we "enjoy" our "rights," there's just too much bad history and bumpersticker posturing to allow a real dialog. Unfortunately, there will probably be a little of that this weekend at the NRA's outdoor, fishing and gun expo in Carroll County.

Some on the left shamefully tried to blame the Tucson killings on everyone from the former Alaska governor to Glenn Beck. At least they left Yosemite Sam out of it.

But those on the other side have tried to shift responsibility elsewhere as if outerspace aliens caused our misery.

"What happened in Tuscon was not a failure of gun-control laws," a lawyer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation told the Washington Post. "This was a failure of the mental-health system."

No, not me, mom. It's those guys over there.

It's true, a six-round clip wouldn't have helped Rep. Gabby Giffords or some of the people standing closest to her on Jan. 8. But with a smaller magazine, brave bystanders could have jumped the gunman as he reloaded his Glock 19 much sooner.

The Virginia Tech gunman had a Walther P22 with 10-round clip and a Glock 19 with a 15-round clip. He fired nearly 200 rounds in 15 minutes, killing 30 people and wounding 17.

Yes, we need to talk about this.

But in its usual helpful manner, the NRA released a statement this month promising to oppose any attempt by Congress to regulate the size of ammunition clips.

Why?

A hunter doesn't need an extended magazine to take down a critter. A target shooter can reload. And if a homeowner needs 33 rounds to scare off a prowler or fend off an intruder, he or she is a lousy shot and heaven help the kids and neighbors.

Oh, I remember, the Second Amendment guarantees my right to have as many bullets as I want, and limiting my firepower is just a stepping stone to taking away my 20-gauge Remington.

I don't think so. And U.S. history is on my side.

Note to NRA: If I feel the need to protect my home beyond what Montgomery County provides, give me my pump-action shotgun any day.

We need to talk. The sooner the better.

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