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 OPINION PAGE - AUGUST 25, 1999 - COMMERCE, GEORGIA



Letters to the Editor
The Commerce News
August 25, 1999

'Citizens' Rights' Side Of Gun Control
Editor:
This is in response to the Op-ed titled "Gun Controls Must Be Enforced, Strengthened" in The Commerce News dated August 11, 1999.
You were correct in your statement that our schools are a reflection of our society. Failures in society are played out in actions by those in the schools and work-places as in the Columbine shootings and the day trader tragedy in Atlanta. Contrary to your assumption that more gun control would have prevented these incidents or that guns somehow caused these incidents, the individuals that did the killing were the ones responsible, and no gun law would have stopped them. A criminal mind is not created just because guns are readily available. If that were the case, we would all be criminals. The criminal mind is created by some failure to instill in it the basic principles of morality and virtue. Perish the thought that one must bear the consequences of one's actions. It is much easier to blame an object for these actions.
Guns by themselves do not kill people. People kill people with guns, knives, hammers, bricks, rocks, automobiles, and whatever other objects may be at their disposal when their warped minds direct them to kill. Any number of objects can be used to perpetrate death on another person.
Are we going to legislate the purchase of bricks, automobiles, hammers, or anything that might possibly be used to harm someone? Where do we draw the line, or is that the whole objective: to control every facet of the public's lives?
The assumption that taking guns away, or making it as difficult as possible for law abiding citizens to purchase them, is going to stop criminals, loners, and other mentally unstable outcasts from committing whatever acts of violence they can dream up is preposterous.
This country (and our Constitution and Bill of Rights) was founded on principles of freedom in response to the tyranny and oppression that our forefathers had experienced. We must question the ultimate motives of those who would seek to remove the freedoms and rights (not privileges as you stated) such as the right to keep and bear arms. It was for these rights that our forefathers fought and died. It was the possession and use of firearms by our forefathers which gave them the power to fight and overthrow their oppressors.
It is the possession, and use if necessary, which gives law-abiding citizens the power to protect themselves against tyrants (criminals and other misfits of society) today. Ask the hardened criminal what is his greatest fear, and he won't tell you "getting caught" or "the new ten-day waiting period." What he fears most is that the citizen whose car he is going to "jack" or whose house he is going to burglarize might have the firepower to stop him from succeeding. Had one of the employees at All-Tech Securities in Atlanta been in possession of a firearm, Mark Barton's rampage might have been stopped as soon as it started. Some ask, "What do you want to do, go back to the 'Wild West?'" Well, if they mean the relatively low-crime era of the late 1800s, yes, that would be nice. Any lowlife who came into town with the idea of shooting the place up knew that nearly all the citizens were armed and were well-schooled in how to use their weapons.
Please explain how the registration of firearms stops a criminal from doing whatever ill he so desires. Do the "Mark Bartons" care one bit whether the weapon that they are about to use is registered and can be traced back to them? What then is the purpose of registering firearms if not to make it easier for the government at some future time to round up all those registered and therefore take away what resistance could be offered in the event of some tyrant attempting to take control of our great nation? "That's outrageous!" some say. Tell that to the survivors and descendants of the Holocaust. Thomas Jefferson said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny in government."
Some laws have been passed to limit the production and/or sale of certain types of firearms. They say "semi-automatic so-called 'assault weapons' and handguns with high capacity are not necessary for hunting or target practice." As quoted by Walter Williams, "The farmers gave us the Second Amendment not so we could go deer or duck hunting but to give us a modicum of protection against congressional tyranny." These laws are the "whittling away" of the rights of gun owners. As the rights become narrower and narrower, it becomes easier to label an ordinary law-abiding citizen as a criminal or fanatic.
I am neither a "gun fanatic" nor a "right wing extremist," but merely a citizen who is concerned when he reads an editorial opinion that goes so much against the principles of freedom. It is so easy for the "blind public" to be lulled into acceptance as fact of the rhetoric presented by gun control advocates. I would merely like to present the "citizens' rights" side of the issue.

Gene Coleman,
Hoschton

Editor's Note: The editorial to which Mr. Coleman responds made no assumption that better gun control would have prevented the tragedies in Colombine or Atlanta. And, for the record, there have been no known mass murders with bricks, hammers or rocks. Also, how do you define Congressional tyranny and who exactly do you shoot when it occurs?



Column
Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
August 25, 1999


Is Assassination
Less Moral
Than Warfare?
Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson attracted a lot of derision recently for suggesting that America should employ assassination as part of its foreign policy.
I hate to even appear to agree with the Rev. Robertson on much of anything, but in America's dealings with the late Ayatollah Khomeini, with Saddam Hussein and with Slobodan Milosevic, admit it, didn't you long for the days when the CIA would quietly bump off some Third-World dictator running amok?
And it does make more sense to rub out Milosevic than to bomb Kosovo for months, killing the innocent, while the leader is safely hidden away.
But you don't talk about assassinations. You just do them. That is the rub, too, because if assassination is the tool for eliminating a despot, there can be no public debate as to the appropriateness of the action. Who decides who is to die? Imagine that Milosevic had been murdered by the CIA, but the belief of the public was that someone in Serbia had done the deed. NATO's intervention might well have been avoided and countless lives saved.
Tempting, isn't it?
Then again, wasn't it a timely assassination that helped America get more deeply involved in Vietnam? It is a difficult tool to manage. The murder of an individual is criminal, whereas the multitude of deaths that occur in military action seems to have legitimacy attached. Targeting Milosevic with a cruise missile during the NATO bombing is "acceptable" to much of the public in the West, whereas targeting him with a single bullet or a car bomb smacks of terrorism and criminality and would be met with protest.
My son and I once played a board game where the object was to conquer the world, country by country. The battles were fought with a roll of five dice, and you removed characters from the board as the "battles" progressed. It was so easy to commit inferior numbers to a lost cause, or to start a battle to conquer a new country in a game. In real war, generals do the same thing. They commit troops to the hell of battle while sitting safely out of harm's way. They have to be able to sacrifice their men to be successful. If they cannot send men to their death, they cannot do their job.
Robertson's suggestion is that we can reduce the casualties by assassinating the few people responsible for conditions that have led or could lead to war. From a purely military standpoint, that is just good business. But from a moral and ethical standpoint, there is no good way to wage war. Killing one person or committing thousands to be killed is a matter of scale.
Robertson suggested it was more efficient to kill a leader "than to spend billions of dollars in a war that harms innocent people and destroys the infrastructure of a country." Cost savings aside, it is an interesting issue to debate. It is hard to justify the harm caused to civilians in war, but it's equally hard to say that the murder of a leader who in our eyes misbehaves is justifiable.
Still, how much tragedy would have been averted if someone had killed Milosevic 15 months ago? Had that someone been the CIA, would it seem less moral than our war against the Serbs?



Editorial
The Commerce News
August 25, 1999

City Must Try To Avoid
Massive Trailer Park

The city of Commerce should do all it legally can to discourage development of a massive mobile home park whose impact on the city could be devastating.
The Commerce Planning Commission tabled action on a request for a development off U.S. 441 North that could hold 500 trailers. What's more, the developer's attorney intimates that if the city does not rezone the property, he will go to court to contest the implementation of the city's zoning ordinance under which his client lost his R-4 (mobile home) classification in the old zoning ordinance. If that move proves successful, the developer could put 910 trailers on the same property.
One of the criteria under which the city can turn down the zoning request is a negative effect of the change upon the city's infrastructure. Certainly this development applies. It would virtually use up the capacity at the sewage treatment plant, would require the hiring of two more police officers, would severely affect the school system and would probably create traffic hazards at the entrance points. It would also upset the balance between stick-built houses and mobile homes, a balance that is crucial to the well-being of the community.
The city could accept a mobile home park on a much smaller scale, but any development proposing 500 to 900 new housing units is too much at one time. Officials should be in consultation with their attorney; if he is confident the city can withstand the court challenge, Commerce should reject the pending zoning request because of its massive and negative effect on the city.






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