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Today, one of the most popular topics for our legislators is restricting gun ownership in some form or fashion. They have labeled some firearms as “assault” weapons and liken them to being equivalent to the firearms that are used by our military. First of all, I would like to mention that I spent 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and have never heard the term assault weapon used in the military. The fact is, the word assault is not an adjective. Second, only people who do not understand firearms would believe any firearm that can be purchased from your local firearms dealer has the same capability as those used in our military or by police. To put it in context that may be easier to understand, consider a car that you can purchase from your local auto dealer. You can buy a car with a spoiler, mag wheels, dual exhaust and racing stripes that resemble those seen on a race car. The fact is, those cars would not hold their own against the cars that many people watch circle the track on Sunday afternoon.

The battle cry of our legislators seems to be the children. Law abiding gun owners gasped with the same horror as non-gun owners, as we watched the events unfold at the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The problem is that gun ban advocates only seem to be concerned with the children who lose their lives to gun violence. I would ask, does a parent grieve any more or less when a child is killed at the hands of a drunk driver? There has been a lot of legislation to try to curb drunk driving, but never once has it been suggested that there should be a car ban. There has never been an organization founded that was called Mothers Against Cars. Why is this? The people who fight for stronger drunk driving legislation understand that it is not the car that is to blame. It is, in fact, the fault of the person who chose to break the law and get behind the wheel while they were impaired.

If you commit a crime with a gun, you will likely never be able to legally own a firearm again. However, if you are found guilty of drunk driving, you may have your driver’s license suspended for a short period of time, but will eventually be able to keep your license. This is also allowed to happen multiple times in many instances. In fact, there are numerous cases where people drove drunk, caused an accident and killed an innocent victim, and still possess a driver’s license. Now, many would argue that banning cars would not be practical. Bear in mind that operating a car is a privilege, not a right. There are no amendments in the Bill of Rights that secure the right of car ownership. There are societies that live their lives every day without the use of automobiles. They do, however, own firearms. I speak of the Amish community, for one.

Speed is also often cited as a cause for accidents that take the lives of our children. Yet, for some reason, you don’t hear our legislators calling for a ban on cars that are capable of exceeding the maximum posted speed limit. Yet, they will introduce bills that will limit the number of bullets that can be inserted into a magazine that can be then inserted into a firearm. You will hear them say, “No one needs a gun that will hold more than 10 rounds” — that seems to be the arbitrary number that most have settled on. Well, who needs a car that will exceed the maximum speed limit?

We live in a civilized society, but there are uncivilized people who live among us. Evil people have always and will always do evil deeds. The vast majority of firearms owners will never commit a crime with their firearms, and they take safety very seriously when they handle them. I honestly do not believe I can say the same in respect to car owners and how they safely operate their vehicles. I would submit that if you believe that it is the person who drove drunk, not the car, who caused the loss of life, you are capable of understanding that it is the person who pulled the trigger, not the gun, who did the same. If you are unwilling to accept this argument, I would suggest you have some other motive rather than protecting the lives of our children. Please be honest with yourself and the American people.

Is it only gun owners who are responsible to sacrifice in the name of safety for our children? Shouldn’t all Americans be asked to do the same? Are you willing to give up your cars? After all, in the words of President Obama, “If it will save the life of one child, we must try.”

Kerry Nelson, Lexington Park

The writer is a retired master sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps.