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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Another look at gun control laws
Thursday - 1/27/2011, 1:26pm EST
In fact, I've had enough for a long time. I'm talking about the senseless shooting in Arizona and so many others before it. It's time to do something about it, even if it's just a little something.
I know that it can be political suicide for politicians to take on the National Rifle Association, especially in the South. And it's easy for me to take a stand because I'm not running for office.
The last time the Congress voted for meaningful gun legislation happened after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Now, with a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl shot dead along with four others and Congressman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded, the public is shocked and maybe shocked enough to demand action.
The NRA and its supporters have what has become a politically effective response. What was needed at the shooting, they say, was another gun. Meaning that if one of the law-abiding bystanders had had a weapon, he could have dispatched the killer, Jared Loughner, on the spot. "When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim," so said Jack Harper, a callous Arizona state representative the day after.
As it turns out, there was a person with a gun at the scene, as noted by Timothy Eagan in The New York Times. The man, Joseph Zamudio, was leaving a drug store when he heard the gunfire. He drew his gun and ran toward crowd. He almost shot one of the men restraining Loughner on the ground.
"I was lucky," said Zamudio. "He didn't shoot the wrong guy. I have a rifle. I have hunted. I understand that it's a person who kills people, not the gun."
But I also know that shooting deaths number about 80 a day in America or about 29,000 a year. And I know that there is absolutely no sane reason that a hunter, sportsman or 2nd Amendment advocate must have a 30-round clip for a MAC-10 automatic pistol. The rapid fire and 30 bullets made it possible for Mr. Loughner to shoot and kill so many people.
Politically, Congress will not ban assault weapons, especially with so many members such as North Carolina Representatives Heath Shuler and Renee Ellmers and Texas' Louie Gohmert eager to beat their breast as gun owners and NRA sycophants.
But even they should take a stand against the sale of what's called "high capacity magazines"—30-round clips. It's time to do something, even if it's this little something. And if not now, when?