I'm a handgun owner and sport shooter (target shooting) who would like to shake some sense into the radical elements on both sides of the gun issue -- the anti-gun extremists who favor a total ban on handguns (except for law-enforcement and military personnel) and the pro-gun extremists who call any gun control a violation of Second Amendment rights.
To the former, I invite you out to the range to discover the joys of shooting. Guns and rounds on me. Don't be afraid. Remember, guns don't kill people, people . . . Hey, just kidding. Benign, guns are not, but I'll buy a box of ammo for anyone who can tell me the last time someone was killed at one of the ranges in our area. Safety is first and foremost (eye and ear protection, range commands, instruction, etc.) at these places, fun second.
But oh, what fun. Fun like you wouldn't believe. Fun that would make you feel guilty for having so much fun -- with a deadly weapon.
I'd get pornographic trying to describe what it's like to wrap your hands and fingers around one of those superbly crafted machines, gathering all the patience and control and concentration you can muster and then squeezing the trigger, hurling missiles at over 1,000 feet per second toward a black dot 25 or 50 yards away, and then placing those missiles in the black dot, also known as the bull's-eye. So I won't describe it, I'll just recommend it, especially for the tense and irritable: Target shooting is a great way to relax.
And I'll also recommend that you educate yourselves about guns, since most of you can't seem to distinguish a revolver from a pistol, automatic from semi-automatic, rimfire from centerfire. Space won't permit me to inform you here, though I can't resist giving what I'll call lesson number 1: A semi-automatic handgun is not necessarily an assault weapon.
And speaking of information, I'd like someone from Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse (I agree with some of their ideas) to inform me how banning 10-plus capacity magazines and setting a one-gun-a-month per person purchase limit, two of their proposals, will save lives. Most people killed from handguns die from one or two bullets from one handgun.
Limits, of course, is something you anti-gun control people and NRA extremists know nothing about. Left up to you, the "right to bear arms" would include bazookas, tanks, cruise missiles or anything else that goes bang and kills.
By now, you should realize that you have a serious image problem of your own making. My advice: Cut back on the political lobbying and stick to what made you respectable: promoting the joys of safe recreational shooting. Also, stop vetoing gun-control legislation that is reasonable and sound, like the proposed ban on high-caliber military assault weapons and the Brady Bill. Remember a few years back, when, to combat the proposed ban on assault weapons, you sent your minions through Baltimore's killing streets carrying signs that read "It's A Bad Law?" Well, it -- pardon the expression -- backfired on you, didn't it?
Wise up and get real: The public is fed up with your bullying and lobbying, your slick ad campaigns and dumb rhetoric. (People die in cars, so why not ban them? etc.) If Thomas Jefferson and this nation's other founding fathers, whom you're fond of quoting, had had the foresight to see how violent and dangerous American society would become in 200 years, do you really think there would be a Second Amendment in its present form? I don't. Guns do kill people and they're killing Americans at an alarming rate.
Solutions? I know what won't work: Denying law-abiding citizens the right to own handguns, allowing weapons purchases without a waiting period, banning all semi-automatic handguns, failing to conduct a thorough background investigation before purchase.
Meanwhile, both groups should start listening and talking to one another, soften their rhetoric and try the C word: compromise.
Mark Miller writes from Baltimore.