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March 25, 2013

Editorial:

McALESTER — The gun range shooting death of a man in Oklahoma City and developments in Washington about gun control this week once again bring to the forefront the question: Should gun ownership be legislated?

The simple answer? No.

For many in the area, the answer would be a resounding, “No!”

Police say 25-year-old Nijim Dabbour died after being found with a gunshot wound to the head at H&H Shooting Sports on Monday in Oklahoma City. Police say Dabbour was found slumped over in a shooting stall about 5:30 p.m. Monday and died later at an Oklahoma City hospital. He apparently killed himself, according to Oklahoma City police.

Gun legislation could not have changed this. Nor would it have changed the story about Chris Kyle, fatally shot at a Texas gun range last month.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Democratic leaders said the firearms legislation the Senate will debate next month won’t include the provision that gun-control advocates pressed for after an assault-type weapon was used in the Newtown school shootings in December. The move all but ends chances for an assault weapons ban.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wanted to bring a gun bill to the full Senate that would have enough support to overcome any GOP attempts to prevent debate from even starting. He expressed concern that including the assault weapons provision might effectively block passage of any bill at all.

Instead, the sponsor of the provision, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said she will offer her ban on the military-style firearms as an amendment. But Feinstein is all but certain to need 60 votes from the 100-member Senate to prevail, and she faces solid Republican opposition as well as likely defections from some Democrats.

In Oklahoma —particularly in rural areas — gun use and ownership are often second nature. Rifles are in the truck when we go to feed cattle; the shotgun is propped against the wall in the closet nearest the front door, and yep, there’s a handgun under the front seat of the wife’s car. We use them to shoot rattlesnakes and other  varmints; we feel safe knowing the Smith and Wesson is right there when things go bump in the night. After all, when you live in the country, a call to 911 can get a deputy headed your way, but a 15-minute wait is an eternity when an intruder is in your home.

But beyond that are questions of the types of weapons we own, and where we can take them, and how many shots can be fired. On one hand, most people can’t own rocket launchers or missiles, and who needs a military-grade assault weapon to shoot at rattlers? On the other hand, the difference between high-volume military-grade magazines and a six-shot revolver is like comparing a Hummer to a VW bug. Or a 10-ounce diet Coke to a Big Gulp Slushee. Who would ever dream of legislating what one drives or drinks (besides New York City’s mayor)? Likewise, why should the size of gun we own be legislated?

Lawmakers in Washington will continue to maneuver and jockey for position on potential laws about gun control, trying to soothe the tensions of voters on both sides of the issue. We remind our own representatives at the nation’s capitol where we stand on the issue: Guns are our tools. Hands off.

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