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To the Editor:
Like most Americans, I was sadded to hear of the recent tragedy in Connecticut. Like fewer Americans, I was also saddened to hear that this tragedy is being used as a springboard for political activism against firearms.
A man could wreak untold havoc and mayhem by rampaging through a grade school classroom with a revved up chainsaw. Should we then register all chainsaws? Or perhaps legislate that all Americans go back to cutting firewood and logging by hand?
A woman could devastate her community by going to a church service with a handbag packed with Mason jars full of gasoline and a box of matches. Should we then outlaw the sale of gasoline in America?
A man could create mayhem at the local football or soccer match by mowing up the sideline players and spectators with his John Deere tractor and hay swather. Should we then legislate that all farmers must return to cultivating behind mules or oxen?
Or, we could legislate that we end all church services, sporting events, public schools, theaters or any other gathering where Americans can be killed in wholesale lots.
And we can dial back the airlines into two-seater bi-planes a la 1918, one pilot, one passenger. That way, if a suicide pilot takes control there is only one passenger in peril.
After all, flying a two-seater airliner into a log cabin really isn’t a political statement – just an accident. And at that loss ratio we could outlast any terrorist. They would run out of suicide plots long before we ran out of citizens. But wait … surely irrational violence should not lead to irrational legislation … and yet …
Chainsaws, gasoline, tractors and firearms are all inanimate objects. In and of themselves, they have no vice or virtue. Each of them has been used to great benefit mankind. And each has the potential to be used harmfully.
It seems obvious that any thinking person (hopefully, this will not exclude Congressmen) should be able to conclude that no amount of “controlling” inanimate objects will ever prevent acts of irrational or malicious violence by a thinking, animate human being who is out of control.
– Allen P. West