Being raised at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, I learned about guns at an early age. I had my first .22 rifle at about age 12 and my own .410 shotgun at 13.

Being raised at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, I learned about guns at an early age. I had my first .22 rifle at about age 12 and my own .410 shotgun at 13. My father let me shoot his double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun earlier, but the recoil bruised my shoulder. I was expected by 16 to get a deer in the annual hunting season to supplement the family food supply. In other words, I am familiar with guns.


When our family moved to Sweden, we visited the ancient and enchanted island of Gotland in the Baltic, where I purchased a 16th-century muzzle-loading pistol and rifle from an old farmer. When we moved to the Washington, D.C., area I asked the National Rifle Association, during a visit to their truly fantastic museum of weapons, to evaluate them. They asked me to donate them to their collection, but I did not. My point is that I have been familiar with the NRA for many years.


As a hunter and gun owner, I applaud the NRA for fostering knowledge about guns and the right of citizens to own them. But I differ greatly from NRA when it comes to permitting citizens to own military automatic and semi-automatic armaments that are made for one purpose only: to kill human beings.


I find the NRA’s interpretation of Second Amendment to the Constitution greatly distorted, particularly when they say it means ordinary citizens have the right to purchase military ordnance. No other civilized country, with the possible exception of Israel – which, after the United States, is probably the most militaristic nation on earth – could entertain such a nonsensical and anti-social interpretation.


We repeatedly experience tragic and heart-rending mass shootings, most recently in Aurora, Colo., with the perpetrator using military ordnance readily available on the open market.


In 1994 Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which made the manufacture, transfer or possession of any semiautomatic assault weapon illegal, i.e. the Colt AR-15, AK-47, Beretta AR-70, M-10, etc. for 10 years. On Sept. 13, 2004, the law lapsed with no effort to extend it.


It is a waste of time arguing with the NRA. Its point of view is well expressed by bumper stickers pointing out that the only way they will give up their weapons is to pry them from their cold dead hands.


As an absolute minimum I think we should expect our congressman, Emanuel Cleaver II, who is also an ordained clergyman, to try to reinstate the 1994 bill.