NRA has no right to dictate who should live and die

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I fired a weapon twice in my life, on two successive days.

After I was drafted, I spent two cold and dreary weeks in tents at Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, N.J. A group of us were shipped out in the middle of the night on Washington’s birthday. We did not know where we were going, but we were happy to be going anywhere.

Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the headquarters of the Ordnance Department, was our destination. During my eight weeks of basic training, we never carried a rifle. Our weapon was the carbine, a lighter piece of armament, the weapon of ordnance soldiers.

But our firing range tests were with the standard rifle at the time, an M1. The aptitude tests the U.S. Army gave me showed I would be a good cook. To this day, I can barely boil water! I learned there was a position in the public relations office and on the weekly paper. I had to pass the firing range test.

On the first day on the range, I was in the prone position when an officer came up to me and said, “What target are you shooting at, soldier?”

“No. 24, sir!”

“Are you shooting at the target or the number under the target?”

I failed that day.

That night, two of my friends in the company who had passed the test made plans to man the target I would be shooting at the next day. We did not exaggerate my prowess, if any, but I passed and have a medal somewhere to prove it.

I never had a fake gun when I was a kid and neither did any of my friends in Borough Park or Elmhurst. We pointed our index fingers at each other and made believe we were shooting. We saw westerns and gangster films with guns in them.

So the pandemic of weapons in our country is foreign to me. Since I am a meat eater, I do not begrudge hunters their sport, but must people have weapons of mass destruction that are used by armies and law enforcement authorities? Indeed, must anyone have a weapon except for sport and game hunting?

I know what is in the U.S. Constitution, but let us get past that. The Constitution is not the Ten Commandments. It was written on parchment, not handed down from Mount Sinai. It has been interpreted for 200 years. It was written by human beings. It is not the voice of God.

The Constitution spells out our rights. In a democracy, rights go hand-in-glove with responsibilities.

Those who want everyone to have guns think this is some holy command. Concealed weapons, in some places in this country, can be taken into schools, colleges, houses of worship, restaurants, shops, theaters, etc.

Why not supply all teachers, clergy and everyone else in the United States, including children, with assault weapons and be done with it?

It is time to stop this horror. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been on the right track for years. President Barack Obama, as I write this, has gone four years without having the guts to take on the National Rifle Association and its puppets in Congress and has allowed some laws to be repealed or not renewed.

He has talked the talk, but not walked the walk. There are signs that he is taking some steps, at last.

He, like other politicians, likes to quote Holy Scripture when it suits their purposes. They might consider this paraphrase from Paul (formerly Saul): Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and take no action, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Let us be thankful that our local members of Congress are not among the NRA puppets. It is time to speak up and start to turn this nation around from a gun-toting rampage.

It is either that or arming everyone, even children. Those congressional NRA puppets are often those who speak out against “unelected” bureaucrats directing our lives.

Who elected the NRA to direct our lives? The public statements by this group since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., border on paranoia and dementia.

But this attitude is not new for the NRA. It should not come as a surprise. Check out the biography of Wayne LaPierre, the guy who runs the place.

Is the NRA the image of our country we want? Should the NRA determine who lives and dies in this democracy?

This marksman will never fire another weapon. Be thankful about that as I am, because I might just kill someone, considering my prowess.

Posted 3:50 pm, January 17, 2013
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Reader feedback

LOU from BAYSIDE says:
The Kenyan with the fake social security number has 24 hour armed protection! The fiendish Bloomberg has full time protection even on his Friday jaunts to "Bermuda" with his young male aides. Both are tyrants. The Kenyan has signed every partial birth abortion bill that ever crossed his desk, allowing doctors to open up a babies skull at the back of the neck and suck their brains out . The Kenyan has also attended meetings of secret societies such as the Bilderberg group where he was selected by the worlds elite to be the puppet President at the meeting in Chantilly Virginia. Fiendish ,perverted,Bloomberg(also a proponent of baby killing) is a proponent af UN agenda 21 which would force families of 4 to live in 250 sq ft micro apartments! If these 2 fiends could they would have American citizens in internment camps! The fact that Americans have guns is the only thing keeping you me and everyone else from being abused at the hands of these bloodthirsty, satanically inspired tyrants!
Jan. 19, 2013, 7:41 am
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Lou: As always, I am delighted that you read my stuff and comment on it. Obviously, we are of different minds, but, as Voltaire said (paraphrasing), while I may disagree with you, I will defend to the death your right to sayd what you say. I'm not quite sure about the death part of that, but I am sure that I appreciate your comments.
I see that Obama--pushed by Joe Biden, who is, in my opinion, a mensch--is taking up this matter in a more direct and sensible way.
I applaud Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature for the arms control legislation it has passed. I hope that all our Queens legislators voted for it.
I also applaud Governor Christie of New Jersey for taking up this issue.
Lou, once again, I thank you for your comments. I read your comments about other stories and, while I may not agree with you, I am happy to see you responding to what is going on. That, as you know well, is what is called citizen action in a democracy.
Kenneth Kowald
Jan. 19, 2013, 8:32 pm
Lou from Bayside says:
To describe Biden as a mensch is a perversion of the word. He is an incredibly evil individual who some believe is also mentally ill due to the effects of an earlier cerebral stroke. HItler,Stalin,Mao,Bloomberg,Cuomo,Biden,Obama equals the reason Americans need and must have weapons up to and including the most high powered assault rifles. Jefferson stated that Americans need to bear arms was at its core a last defense against a tyrranical regime.
Jan. 20, 2013, 9:06 am
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Lou: Keep those comments coming. I try not to make ad hominen comments, not always successfully. But, anyone can do it and, in this day and age, it seems to be a given.

Kenneth Kowald
Jan. 20, 2013, 3:59 pm
DaveP from Marine Park says:
Ken-The NRA isn't telling you or anyone else how to live. It was created in 1871 by 2 former Union Generals to promote rifle practice and to teach citizens both black and white to protect thermselves from the KKK. Read up on it before you show your ignorance of the facts. The ongoing "assault rifle" argumentis not about hunting. It never was. It IS about self defense. During the LA riots 3 Korean shop owners were photographed shooting at an armed mob that was shooting at them and trying to loot their shop and kill them. There are times, mostly civil unrest like LA, and other cities, and natural disasters like Katrina, when the police can't respond to your 911 call. You are on your own. If you can't defend yoursef and your family you will likely be killed. In such a situation God forbid, you would want such a rifle for self defense, and then you would understand the futility of banning these weapons when the legislature should be insuring that criminals, lunatics, illegal aliens and the like are denied access to them. You ban the gun when you want to run for president; not when you want to stop the violence. This new law will make a whole lot of law abiding people into overnight criminals - and for what, so Andy can run for higher office?
Jan. 20, 2013, 10:20 pm
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Dave P: Many thanks for your comments. As St. Augustine said (see my column on civil discourse, of an earlier date), we can disagree without denying each other's right to do so. And, as a New Jersey supreme court justice wrote some years ago, "In a democracy, the minority has the right to be wrong."
I have no idea whether you or I may be in the majority or minority. But, it doesn't matter. Civil discourse does matter and I thank you, again, for your comments.
Kenneth Kowald
Jan. 21, 2013, 10:26 am
Claus Schmidt from in transit - fortunately. says:
The questions of who should own guns or not and "who lives and dies in this democracy?" are two completely different issues.

Our constitution grants any law-abiding citizens the choice to arm themselves or to out-source their personal protection to the police (who will arrive in minutes when seconds count).

The NRA is not making a choice for anyone but upholds that this choice is one of the fundamental rights this society is build upon. So far, the Supreme Court agrees with this notion.

The question who lives or dies is brough forward by a criminal attacker. By jeopardizing the victim's health or life, the attacker escalates 'normal life' to where at least one person is going to get incapacitated or possibly killed.

If nobody confronts me violently with the question "me or you?" then there is no need for me to give an answer.

If forced to give my input to the ultimate question I would like to leave unasked, I will act with the consideration that I have to justify my actions in court if I survive and the perpetrator did not.

Do you thinks that criminals who make a living by provoking daily who gets hurt or not, who lives or dies, are self-constrained by moral or legal bounds?

Do you thinks they leave their guns at home just because, if they did, a later trial could be less costly?
Feb. 1, 2013, 2:47 pm
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Mr. Schmidt: Many thanks for your comments. The column is all mine. I did not write the headline and was not consulted on it.
This is a subject which calls for as much calm and sensible comment as possible, I think.
Again, I appreciate your taking the time to comment on my thoughts. I hope you will continue to let me and others know what you are thinking.
Kenneth Kowald
Feb. 1, 2013, 5:05 pm
Claus Schmidt from Fortunately just driving through says:

Since you asked me for my opinion let me come forward with a question that puzzles me for a while.

Why do voters in large urban areas plagued with violent crimes like NYC, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore, etc. favor gun control laws that put them even more at a disadvantage against criminal assault?

Even if you do not personally want to carry/use a gun, a concealed carry friendly atmosphere is a crime deterrent in itself. The criminals do not know who could shoot back and therefore will be less incined to take the risk messing with anyone. Predators are opportunists not heroes.

I agree with one of the previous posters that Cuomo's hastily pushed gun bill was driven more by his career ambitions and less by the desire to enhance public safety - as evidenced by the omission to exempt public safety officers from the magazine and gun ban.

But why do potential victims of urban unrest (think Rodney King riots or Katrina) and daily violence accelerate their own defenselessness with votes and editorials?

Do you think that the gangstas will play fairly and surrender the tools they use to prey on innocent victims? Do you think that after the disarmament of law-abiding citizens, NYPD will clean illegal guns out of the worst neighborhoods? Do you think that cartells shipping illicit drugs across the globe would have problems resupplying their foot soldiers with more guns?
Feb. 1, 2013, 7:55 pm
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Lookk Out says:
Mr. Schmidt: Again, thank you for continuing a conversation on this important subject. I hope that as the conservation continues in the country, the state and the city, it will include views about the effectiveness of gun control. That seems to be a matter, if I am reading the reports correctly, that has not been addressed as carefully as it might be, except in an anecdotal manner.
Kenneth Kowald
Feb. 2, 2013, 11:38 am
Claus Schmidt from Fortunately just driving through says:

I agree. We have to deal with the real issues if we want meaningful results.

Currently, we a bickering about laws concerning inate objects while we ignore the real problem: PEOPLE who have a blatent disregard for other people's life, health, and liberty. (Even the focus on mental illness ignores those who are 'normal' but violent).

Unfortunately, you fell in the same trap by blaming the tool for the consequences instead of adressing the behavior of the owner/user. The important word in the term 'gun violence' is VIOLENCE. We are kidding ourselves to think that we can control violence by controlling guns.

I mentioned in my first post that I have to weigh the appropriateness of my response to aggression. There is a fine line between self-defense and reciprocal violence. It does not matter whether I use a gun, a knife or my hands in a conflict. I, the actor, will be held responsible in court, not the tool.

I feel hardbroken for the parents of the victims in Newtown. But I am not convinced that Sandy Hook was any different before the carnage than any other school in this country.

After prisons and gang-neighborhoods, schools are the most violent sub-societies in our country. Bullying, marginalizing and violence runs rampant in environments that shape the behavior of the next generation.

We have a huge PEOPLE problem coming our way and the random violence committed by teenagers that we saw so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Acting out" has become the norm in our society. Taking guns away from rational, responsible adults is not going to fix that.
Feb. 2, 2013, 2:22 pm
Kenneth Kowald from I Sit and Look Out says:
Mr. Schmidt: We are certainly in agreement about violence and the need to do a much better job about it in our society. Let us hope that as this debate goes on--civilly, I hope--this topic will be upfront along with the other matters that must be addressed.
Again, thank you for taking the time to comment. It is much appreciated.
Kenneth Kowald
Feb. 2, 2013, 5:40 pm

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