What’s changed in America?

What’s changed?

We’ve recently had yet another tragedy in the death of 17 innocent people in Florida at the hands of a evil person. Sad and heart breaking and it leaves us to wonder why. Some want to blame the guns in our country, some the person and maybe even some blame God for not stepping in. We all have the constitutional right to bear arms with exceptions to ex-felons and the mentally ill.

When this story broke, I was pondering back to my high school days, in a small farming community just south of San Jose, California. I remember the high school parking lot being full of pickups and those trucks having rifle racks in the rear window. Most boys went shooting after or before school to either hunt or just plink. No one ever gave it a second thought, it was just part of the culture. No one ever threatened anyone with a weapon or used one to kill other students.

So what has changed? Not the weapons. Weapons don’t bring evil into the equation, so what then? Not being a child psychologist, I can only compare apples to apples. When I grew up, there was no internet, no social media and certainly no violent video games. Parents worked and kids were expected to do the same. Most of us had chores to do and responsibility to help out our families. Families worked hard together to make it in life. Children weren’t handed expensive toys by parents too stressed to spend quality time with them.

The reality of our society is now to teach our kids to use cover and concealment to avoid being shot at school. My biggest concern during school days was avoiding a fistfight and passing grades. My parents’ biggest concern was that I passed all my classes and not being alone with a girl. I think when we took God and prayer out of our schools we created a void to be filled in by something else. I know about now some of you are rolling your eyes and sighing at that comment, but think about it. What else has changed? Kids will always be kids. We fail them when we make light of marriage and family and treat it lightly. When we don’t show commitment to our families, it leaves kids looking for security and attention from something or someone. Would it be so bad for them to seek a relationship with their Creator? Would believing in something greater than themselves give them hope and faith in something that doesn’t change? Evil still will live among us but I think if we have the “handbook” on what evil looks like, we might spot it easier and deal with it. My prayers and hearts are with those families right now in Florida and the fine people who ran toward the shooter and had to deal with his aftermath.

Thomas Wilcoxson

Baker City

America can afford to reduce mass slaughters

No, this is certainly not the nation we want it to be (your editorial of Feb. 16). Not when fusillades of bullets from military arms are tearing through the bodies of our innocent children and adults on a regular basis.

In a rare, front-page editorial in 2015, the New York Times decried the widespread availability of brutal weapons of war in our society, terming it “a moral outrage and a national disgrace.” That has not changed. The bloodbath continues.

It’s obvious we have made a mockery of the phrase “well-regulated militia” prescribed by the Second Amendment. The irony might be laughable, if it weren’t so grimly tragic.

Clearly, we have an UN-regulated civilian militia. We need not accept the legality of handguns and rifles with detachable magazines (regardless of capacity) that can be reloaded in seconds, producing virtually unlimited mayhem in the hands of the disgruntled, the misguided and the insane.

It is time to come together to demand a meaningful, common-sense solution to mass slaughter and to provide the resources to pay for it.

Here’s a rough estimate: If there are, say, 50 million handguns and rifles with detachable magazines in the U.S. (there are roughly 10 million AR-15s) worth an average of $500 each, it would cost $25 billion for a mandatory, federal buy-back program.

We can afford it. For example, it’s a fraction of the wealth held by each of our top billionaires. In turn, it would create a boon for U.S. weapons manufacturers to produce replacement guns with fixed magazines, holding no more than, say, six or eight rounds — in the spirit of two of “the guns that won the West,” the Winchester rifle and the Colt revolver.

Could there be a better investment in our national security for our current and future generations? Let’s get all the facts, and have a vigorous, persistent debate.

Our national motto is “E pluribus unum” — “Out of many, one.” We’re all in this together, and together we can prevail, if we first ask our heart of hearts what kind of nation we really want.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

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