Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Guns out of control in the U.S.

The founding fathers didn’t envision the fire power that weapons have today

I’ve never shot off a gun in my whole life.

Of course, I did have a BB gun when I was a kid, mainly to shoot tin cans off fence posts, but I have never used a real gun that can actually kill people as opposed to just irritating them like a BB gun would.

I’ve always felt nervous around real guns, both rifles and hand guns, probably because I know what they are capable of and I’m afraid that one would go off accidentally while I’m handling it and severely wound, or even kill, an innocent bystander.

I get that the police have guns to protect me and other members of the public from harm, and I also get that hunters and farmers need guns for their activities, but I still almost jump out of my skin every time I hear one go off.

It could be because I grew up in the middle of a modern Canadian city at a time when guns were not really necessary.

We weren’t required to hunt for our food, shoot predators that are threatening our herds or protect ourselves from most criminals as, at least in those days, most of them didn’t carry firearms either.

So guns never played a large role in my life, and I prefer it that way.

That’s why I find it so disconcerting when I see what’s going on in the U.S. these days.

There are more guns than people in the U.S., and that probably wouldn’t be so bad if these were single-shot rifles that have practical purposes among the civilian population.

But the fact that there is such easy access to military-type assault rifles, the types that have been used in multiple mass killings, including the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school last month, and, two weeks before that, the deaths of 10 people in Buffalo, is just plain scary.

The defenders of allowing such deadly firepower into the hands of the general public without ensuring that those purchasing them are mentally stable point to the second amendment of the American constitution which enshrines the rights of citizens to bear arms.

But the constitution was written in the late 18th century just after the War of Independence and it was meant to allow civilians to join the fight if the country faced an invasion from the colonialist British Empire, from which the U.S. just fought and won its independence, or any other foreign threat.

At the time, the guns the founding fathers were talking about were mainly muskets, which could only fire one shot at a time and not very accurately, and then they had to go through a tedious and long reloading procedure to be able to fire again.

When they wrote the second amendment into the constitution, the founding fathers didn’t envision the fire power that weapons have today.

Nor, I’m sure, could they even begin to imagine that people would walk into schools, hospitals and shopping centres and indiscriminately kill dozens of innocent people at a time. They must be turning over in their graves.

It also irks me that many of the defenders of the second amendment refer to it as almost sacrosanct and untouchable and see it as giving them a God-given right that allows them to own as many of these military assault rifles and other armaments as they want.

A country’s constitution is supposed to be a living, breathing document that can be amended and changed over time to keep it current and relevant.

In fact, the American constitution has been amended 27 times since its inception and I don’t understand why the second amendment can’t be updated so that some kind of gun control can be implemented.

To be clear, I’m not saying that Americans shouldn’t have the right to bear arms, but military assault rifles meant to be used by professional soldiers on battlefields should not be made available to the general population.

I’ve heard it said recently that if allowing almost everyone in a country to buy and bear such arms is meant to make people safe, then America should be the safest place on earth.

But watching the daily news, we know that definitely isn’t true.

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