Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that an average of 32,964 people are shot dead in the U.S. each year.

Terrorism “accounts for a negligible share” of these deaths, according to So the overwhelming majority of gun deaths are caused by accident or criminal activity. Legally sold to anyone are guns including assault weapons capable of firing scores of rounds a minute.

The U.S. Constitution gives U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. In the 1700s we were at war with no army to fight the British, and the weapon of the day was the musket, which was reloaded with powder and a bullet between each firing.

Hunters don’t need the firepower of assault weapons. And those who live in fear may have a revolver or handgun with a modest magazine.

Assault weapons can be bought by responsible collectors and by people who think they can be fun to play around with. This means, according to the research firm IBISWorld, $16 billion a year is spent in the U.S. on guns and ammunition.

That’s plenty of money for the gun and ammunition industry and the National Rifle Association to sweeten the pot for our congressional leaders.

The bill offered by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is focused on the wrong target – the terrorists – but it is a big step in the right direction because it will, over time, greatly reduce gun deaths.

I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-gun-blindness. More decades ago than I care to count, I made a living in Vermont as a licensed dealer of firearms.

Alan Johnson