Change behavior, not tools

Published 9:01 pm Saturday, December 29, 2012

By Jon Ward

I was appalled by a recent column by Matthew Ward regarding gun control following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Mr. Ward argued that specific guns — if not all of them — should be outlawed. He is from another country and not accustomed to our laws and ways of life.

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Here is a quick primer for him and others who need an education on the right to bear arms in America.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

When our forefathers crafted the Constitution and its first 10 amendments, they were still vividly aware of the tyranny of England, from which we claimed our independence. These brilliant men carefully considered what it would take for us to remain a free country.

But those who call for gun control today would choose to strip away the people’s rights.

The Second Amendment makes no exception for “crazy” people or convicted felons or minors, and it does not limit the types of weapons one can attain and keep. In their day, our Founding Fathers had rifles and bayonets, but they also had access to cannons and mortars that one day might be considered weapons of mass destruction. In fact, they had a variety of ammunition with names like “buck and ball,” “case shot,” “grape shot,” “pineapple shot,” “bar shot” and “angels,” all designed to inflict as much damage as possible at the time.

I agree that a convicted felon who has used a gun for a crime does not need to have easy access to get another one. But I am leery about mental diagnoses being used as a means to keep citizens from owning guns.

Think how easily someone could be “diagnosed” with a mental condition. Anorexia is a mental condition, as well is bipolar disorder. I could see every person in the United States being labeled with some condition as to keep us from owning guns.

Our nation has evolved since its inception, as have our weapons and ammunition. All of them, however, are covered under our Constitution and protected as a right of the people. If I want to buy and keep an M-16, that is my right. If I choose a handgun with a 30-round clip, that is also my right. Even if a gun can hold thousands of bullets, that gun should be protected under the direction of our founding fathers.

While massacres like those at Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech are indeed tragic, that is no reason to strip away the people’s rights. It is often said that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. A gun is just a tool.

When there was a hatchet attack not long ago in North Carolina, I did not hear of a race to ban hatchets. Any tool can become a weapon in the hands of the wrong person.

If anything needs to come out of the tragedies our country has seen, it is this: Every household or person should be required to keep and bear arms to protect themselves, their families, their property, their cities, their states and their country.

Furthermore, we need to examine the amount of violence we allow our children to see for entertainment, the breakdown of religious and family values, the failure to look out for our neighbors and stay connected as a community.

If you want to reduce the violence in our country, start by changing how people view and treat one another, not by taking away the tools we have. The tools do not need to change; the people need to change.

Jon Ward lives in Eclipse. Email him at