Right up front, a disclaimer: I’m a proud card-carrying member of the NRA. I own two guns. One is a .22 caliber Savage Arms rifle with a scope and a 10-round magazine. The other is a Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun, which has a 6-round clip. And I hold a concealed-carry firearm permit from the state of Maine, which I’ve had for over 20 years. That said, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the October shootings in Lewiston.

It was not the gun which was to blame for the mass-casualty event that took place. It was a person suffering from a truly debilitating mental illness; an irrational individual who clearly should have been flagged by Maine’s yellow flag law well in advance of the deadly occurrence. Sen. Susan Collins questioned why this didn’t happen, with good reason.

It was back in July when the military realized that Robert Card was acting irrationally and hence his hospitalization for two weeks. Then he was released, after admitting he’d been hearing voices and threatening to shoot up his Reserve headquarters in Saco. Obviously, the system failed. Again, let me state that it was not the gun, but the shooter. Guns don’t do the damage, they’re simply inanimate objects. Fast food restaurants don’t make people fat; it’s the person who consumes the food. Cars don’t kill people; it’s the drunk drivers who get behind the wheel. It’s people who are obviously disturbed that cause the damage. This has been the case time and again, in Newtown, Uvalde, Buffalo, and the list continues to grow.

However, I must agree with Rep. Jared Golden. There is absolutely no reason for the public to own an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. Not for home protection, not for sport or even target practice. If I can’t stop an intruder with my .380 Ruger, I need a refresher on how to use the weapon. If I can’t tag a deer with a .30-06 rifle, I shouldn’t be hunting because I’m a lousy shot. Regarding target practice, it’s simply absurd. No one needs an assault weapon other than the military. It’s a weapon of war, designed for mass killing in the shortest amount of time. The average citizen has no need for assault weapons. Golden apologized for his earlier vote on assault weapons, and has stated his change of heart. I applaud him, and I’m a lifelong Conservative and registered Republican. If I lived in the second district, he’d have my vote; he’s level-headed and honest, more than one can say about most politicians in D.C.

This country has got to change its thinking about guns. They’re not the problem. We must enforce the firearm laws which are on the books. We need not only background checks for everyone purchasing a gun anywhere (including gun shows). We need better mental health screening for applicants, as well. Shooting clubs, target practicing, hunting, I’m in favor of it all. But we must ban assault weapons from the general public. It’d be a good start.

Bob Rose is a resident of North Yarmouth.

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