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From the Left Hand Corner: Gun allowance

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I hadn’t planned to write about guns. Too much has been written and not much has been done on the subject for 40-plus years. I don’t have anything profound to add to the complex matter, but am writing about how we deal with it.

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This column is “triggered” by the Jan. 21 lengthy article in the Minneapolis “Strib” on how the “(G)un debate tests outstate congressmen.” Gun rights backer Congressman Tim Walz jeopardizes his “A” rating (and financial support) by the NRA as he considers the efficacy of background checks and the insanity of promotion and accessibility of military style assault rifles with huge firing capacity.

After almost 70 years of some degree of hunting, 60-plus for North Dakota ducks, I still enjoy some grouse, duck and deer hunting a lot.

So, I don’t want to give up the dozen or so guns my son and I own. Most are old and not worth much dollar wise, but I still want to be able to pass them on to family members, along with the good memories their usage has provided.

A highlight of my early memory is riding along with Dad and uncles, when they drove a few miles west of our farm on Sunday afternoons in quest of partridge (rough grouse).

Later, in my early teens, the best days of the year were those in deer camp — out of school, away from chores and hunting from morn til dark.

I’ve belonged to several hunting organizations over the years and really applaud hunters and conservationists working together for a better environment. But, I declined membership in the NRA decades ago, as it seemingly “aimed” itself toward existence as a Republican front group ala John Wayne and Charlton Heston.

As with other complex political and societal issues, the extremists on both sides regarding guns become more problem than solution.

In this case the NRA, with its money and threatened political clout, has become a huge deterrent to rational action. Even the most rabid on the other side, mostly urban oriented, don’t seem to pose any real threat or contention to “take my guns away.”

The trite statement that “guns don’t kill people, people do” is not a very complete answer. People kill people with guns. Alcohol doesn’t drive cars into people, either, but we certainly restrict alcohol usage. Methamphetamines don’t wreck bodies unless people ingest them, but meth is prohibited.

It is fair generalization that the more guns in circulation, the more people are going to be hurt by guns. I tend to believe those who point to untreated or unsuccessfully treated mental illness as causative of recent incidents of horrendous killing of innocent people across our country.

Of course we need better diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, not just to prevent recurrences of Newtown and Colorado. But, remember that costs big money, which in turn requires taxes, which too many are unwilling to pay.

Remember just a few years ago when Tim Pawlenty and crew moved to cut state taxes by unloading people from mental illness institutions onto the streets or to supposedly cheaper, lesser staffed handling and housing.

I tend also to believe that the glut of depicted and reported violence that permeates our news and entertainment has to have dangerous deleterious impact, with too frequent deadly result.

It is a huge challenge to change our appetite for violence as entertainment. As a society we have allowed it to become prevalent and profitable.

However, the NRA doesn’t help only by passing the buck to mental illness and violence on TV.

The irresponsibility of the NRA is reflected in its own rating system. All of Minnesota’s federal elected officials are rated either A or F. There is no room for grading in between, no B, no C, no D, just 10 times, either A or F.

You tell me why our lifelong hunter sportsman, gun owner and gun advocate Congressman Rick Nolan be rated F. Partisan politics, anyone?

I hope that more responsible heads prevail in consideration of gun ownership and usage. Let’s hope that common sense prevails.

I can submit to background checks. I can scrape up a few tax dollars for better mental health care. And, I can enjoy life and get along fine without a fully automatic high capacity assault rifle designed to kill other people.

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