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Letter: Time for compromise on ‘unforgiving’ weapons

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Sharon Mangus


Received: Feb. 4

Gun control. Most of us are squarely for it or against it. It’s hard to find middle ground on this thorny issue. But in the wake of repeated gun tragedies involving mass killings — including the recent loss of innocent children — surely legislators on both sides of the fence can sit down and work on this pressing concern.

I’m a grandmother now. I want my granddaughter to grow up in a world with less violence and fewer assault rifles. I’m not here to spout statistics. I’m not a constitutional expert. I’m just a mother and grandmother who hopes our children and grandchildren can inherit a kinder, safer world.

Many in my family own guns and use them for hunting and target practice. I respect their decisions to own firearms. I don’t want to pry their guns away from them or from anyone else.

But guns are unforgiving weapons. They’re fast, deadly and accurate. They’re created for killing. When you combine lethal weapons with the often unpredictable behavior of human beings, it can be a recipe for disaster. Even people with no apparent criminal tendencies have picked up guns to “solve problems,” just because firearms are handy when they’re in the heat of the moment and consumed with anger.

It’s not just the mentally unstable and criminals who are behind gun tragedies. It can be anyone. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your wife, your mother, your boyfriend. Plenty of ordinary folks have applied a permanent fix to a temporary problem by shooting someone. The late educator Jean Harris, who murdered the “Scarsdale Diet Doctor,” comes to mind.

There’s a shooting story that’s part of my family lore. In the retelling, this story draws laughs; but with a different outcome, it wouldn’t be so funny.

My late grandpa, Lyndon Canary, born in 1898, was a hardworking, Davy Crockett, go-to kind of guy. He wasn’t book smart, but he knew how to do about anything. He loved his family and would give you the coat off his back. He was a decent man but rough around the edges.

One night in the 1920s, Grandpa downed a couple of drinks and got involved in a bar fight. No one remembers what the argument was about; probably, it was triggered by words over something trivial. During the melee, the other fellow knocked out one of grandpa’s teeth. Grandpa was vain about his appearance. He was furious. The whiskey cranked up his anger, and he headed home to get his rifle. Grandpa wanted to kill the guy.

Grandpa’s mother and young wife hung onto him, begging him not to go back, but there was no stopping Grandpa. In due time, he returned home, fuming that the man had disappeared by the time he returned to the bar. Later, word on the street was the guy had taken refuge in the women’s bathroom after someone yelled, “Canary’s back, and he’s got his gun!”

In his twilight years, Grandpa retold the story with a twinkle in his eye. “By gar, that sissy hid from me in the women’s john.” I laughed, imagining the man cowering by the women’s toilet. In Grandpa’s day, the damage to the other guy’s reputation was probably worse than being shot.

With a different ending, the story would be tragic. My grandpa would have been jailed for murder, leaving one family to grieve and two families destroyed.

I’m not calling to outlaw guns, but it’s time for legislators to revisit gun-control laws and work to strengthen them. At a minimum, we need thorough background checks and waiting periods for anyone buying a firearm, no matter where the gun is purchased. And I’d like to see assault rifle ownership limited to our police and military. Let’s do it for the children.

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