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Commentary: Do something different: Ban handguns

I would be the new sheriff in town if I were an elected government official. I would propose legislation that would ban the sale of hand-guns. Of course, I would never be elected with that political platform so don't worry.

I would be the new sheriff in town if I were an elected government official. I would propose legislation that would ban the sale of hand-guns. Of course, I would never be elected with that political platform so don't worry.

Oh, I would let the collec-tors keep their Colt 45s and other old collectible handguns. (I own a few old rifles.) But forget about ever buying a new handgun or any semiautomatic and automatic assault type weapons. If you wanted to turn your handgun or assault weapon in, my legislation would pay you for it. I would even invite you to the party where we would toss them into a fiery furnace.

The U.S. has more homicides than any other country. Why? We have more guns than any other country and our laws are the least restrictive. We are very slow learners in reducing bloodshed among ourselves. Like vampires, we seem to crave it. How big do you think the next shooting will be?

The Virginia Tech killer walked into a gun shop and walked out with a pistol. With the handgun the young man shot 33 people. We can make it difficult for people to get handguns by not selling or making them. We have enough.

It's too bad no politician has the courage to take on the NRA which feels it is virtually everyone's right to have a handgun in every home and under every jacket. The NRA cites the Second Amendment but that was written at another time when things were different. The NRA has done much to promote gun safety and encourage hunting.

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How many fewer deaths would there be in the next 10 years because the NRA said no more handguns? I think they are afraid of what the answer is.

Let's see, there was World War I and then World War II and then the Korean War, Vietnam War, and now the Iraqi War. During that time there were hundreds and hundreds of smaller wars going on. It was ironic that the second day following the Virginia Tech shooting, which was a horrific tragedy, over 300 people were killed in Iraq.

Was there an hour by hour commentary about these 300 people? Were there thousands of people gathering in Baghdad for a candlelight vigil? Was there an effort made to interview friends and neighbors about each of these 300 people to find out who they were? Did President Bush appear on TV to express his sympathy? Will the news magazines carry photos of each of these 300 as they most certainly will of the 33 Virginia Tech victims? Have we become immune to killing?

If we ranked countries by size according to the amount of money spent, the Pentagon with its Department of Defense would be the world¹s 11th largest country. What if we built a big building like the Pentagon, hired as many people and spent the same amount of money to promote peace as the Pentagon does to fight wars. It's just an idea. Let's do things differently.

Since we are doing things differently, we need to mention Al Gore and his film "An Inconvenient Truth." I know there are people who just can't stand this guy who says that polar bears are drowning because huge chunks of ice are melting due to, do I dare say the word, "global warming." I kind of like Al Gore. If nothing else, this guy is resilient.

Al Gore was devastated by los-ing the election to President Bush -- maybe even humiliated. But now look at him. He's Mother Nature's adopted son and an Oscar winner to boot. Let's see, who would stand a better chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at improving our quality of life, Rush Limbaugh or Al Gore? If you had to think for more than a nanosecond, I know a bridge for sale.

Here's what I don't get. Twenty-nine percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that create our greenhouse gas that causes global warming comes from the United States. This is more than any other country. Yet, we cannot sign the Kyoto Protocol which is designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It also has been signed by 141 countries. China and India have not signed it, but so what? Let's sign it and do what is right. Let's do things differently.

I don't have much hope that any of the above three suggestions on how to do things differently will ever occur. Too bad. We may, at sometime in the next two years, sign the Kyoto Protocol. It just depends on who will occupy the White House. But wars and handguns will be around long after I am gone.

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Enough cynicism. U.S. citizens are peace-loving people. We don't believe we should shoot people. We don't like wars and we want a healthy planet. What can we do that is different?

Here are three things. (1) See Al Gore's film. That's all, just see it. (2) Send an e-mail to your friendly politician in Washington and suggest, "How about creating a Department of Peace? What do we have to lose?" (3) Ask yourself, "How many lives could we save if there were no more handguns?"

Let's do things differently.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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