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LETTER: Guns are weapons, not toys

(metro creative)

To the Editor:

It took years for the public to acknowledge the negative effect of smoking cigarettes and make it a priority public health issue — partly because the effects take many years to become deadly and partly because of the propaganda and outright lies put forth by the cigarette industry.

Mass murder in America is a problem acknowledged by a large majority of people, but unlike smoking, the deadly effect of being shot are immediate. So why isn't something being done immediately? It's complicated.

If you live in South Dakota, you might have a shotgun for pheasants, a deer rifle and a .22 for small game. Any gun can become a murder weapon, used in a suicide or accidentally discharged with deadly effect. The causes of these types of gun deaths are many and varied and everyone from law enforcement and mental health professionals to ministers and game wardens are doing their best to prevent these gun deaths.

It is a difficult job in the U.S.A. with a gun culture that has changed from being primarily associated with hunting and self-protection to one that is associated with shooting promoted as a "fun recreation." It is fun to shoot semi-automatic assault weapons with large capacity clips and magazines that can be" bumped up" to shoot as a machine gun. It's all about making money for the gun manufacturers and protecting their profits. It's a fad, it's addictive, it's dangerous, it is killing us.

Guns are weapons, not toys. Guns are made to do one thing — kill. The most dangerous kinds should be available only to the police and military.

To prevent as many gun deaths as possible and minimize the number of deaths and injuries at mass murder events we need to make it a priority public health issue like cigarette smoking. We need bans on military style semi-automatic weapons, large capacity ammo magazines and clips and bumper stocks. We either put some limits on the public's access to certain firearms or we need to repeal and replace the Second Amendment with something that makes sense in the 21st century.

Richard Peterson