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November 16, 2018

3/2/2018 11:31:00 AM
Guns, like drugs, are agents of death
A citizen's view

I write in response to your editorial; “Guns don’t add up”
Nicotine was marketed for decades until evidence that it caused cancers and chronic lung disease was finally accepted. Modern narcotic derivatives were marketed as being “less addictive” until it was realized that these drugs are overdosing and killing tens of thousands each year.
Both compounds were recognized as agents of death, not the people using them, and measures were taken to significantly reduce their availability and usage.
Nicotine marketing, supported by the tobacco industry, denied the medical evidence and lobbied Congress and our representatives for decades until the evidence was finally accepted. Restrictions on the sale and advertising of nicotine products resulted in a marked decrease in both their usage and health consequences. Law suites resulted in the tobacco industry paying substantial amounts in compensation.
The opioid derivatives are marketed by the pharmaceutical industry; however, they are now recognized as not being less addictive. Protocols for better pain management are being developed to reduce their usage and the number of deaths resulting from addiction. Law suits seeking compensation a pending
According to the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby, guns are different. They are not the agents of death, it is the persons using them. This logic represents a disconnect from that applied to the nicotine user and the opioid addict and the successful passage of laws and legal compensation reflect the discrepancy.
The NRA emphasizes the psychological status of those involved in mass shootings to support their argument, however if those perpetrating the shootings had not had the guns, they could not have shot anyone.
Fearing future attempts at re-colonization or intrusion by other states, the drafters of the Second Amendment recognized the need for a “well regulated Militia to secure a free state” and included “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. Dogged adherence to the wording and not the intent of the Second Amendment has resulted in weapons of war now being in the hands of many who are not a well regulated Militia. We have formidable weaponry in our armed forces to provide the nation’s security and a National Guard that can be readily constituted in local areas.
Anyone wishing to own weapons of war similar to those used in the mass killings should perhaps be required, as a condition of ownership, to join and serve in the National Guard. The weapon’s possession, storage and usage would be in Guard facilities contingent upon continuing service.
This requirement would not infringe the rights of hunters and owners of limited capacity hand guns who together with the NRA, exploit the fear that they will result in the Government attempting to remove all guns from private ownership.
What is the motivation for acquiring these weapons, fascination for their killing potential or merely to add to a collection? They are designed for military usage and are not best suited for either hunting or self-defense.
Nicotine and opioids both had powerful marketing forces supporting them. Eventually those personally affected by these agents together with those involved in treating and paying for their effects became politically active and successfully lobbied for change. We can only hope that the social actions and political representations resulting from the most recent school killings occasion significant measures of change
The NRA and the gun lobby are no more formidable than Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.
Donald Barford

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