Editorial cartoon

I reply here to Trib contributor Pete Commander’s Feb. 27 column, “You’re in the militia now, know it or not.” Mr. Commander: Yes, your knowledge of firearms is impressive, but it takes more than technical knowledge about a single subject and a distorted view of history to make a good argument for increasing the number of high-powered weapons among U.S. citizens, not to mention forcing citizens to be part of a militia.

Your argument that fear is a “motivating factor” to those of us who want common-sense gun laws is — sorry to say — a rather puny one when most of us know that fear is what motivates people to purchase more and higher powered weapons in the first place.

Just to give some information about myself, in case you are automatically putting me into some sort of “wimpy liberal” box: I was born and raised on a farm in northwest Illinois. I worked outside in all kinds of weather (many below-zero and deep-snow days) feeding and watering farm animals, beginning when I was 8 years old. I drove a tractor at 10 and I drove a large truck at 12. I took total care of two younger siblings at the tender age of 8. I just want to emphasize, sir, that I’m no stranger to hardship. And I’ve handled a gun.

I’ve used a rifle for target practice. But then I shot at a hawk once, just once, fortunately missed, and then lay the gun down in disgust. I refused to ever again shoot at a living creature and experience the “blood lust” emotions that I felt. Instinctively, I knew that those emotions weren’t contributing anything to my betterment as a human being, though I never criticized anyone else for hunting. My dad always had a few guns. They weren’t so much for protection from other people but simply to have when an animal needed putting down, that kind of thing. My dad also did some hunting in his younger days, mostly pheasants. But I never associated those weapons with having to protect myself from other people, despite your insistence that we all need to be heavily armed because we’re “in the militia, whether we like it or not.”

If we go about our business being good neighbors and good citizens, we’re doing what we can to make this country stronger. More and higher velocity weapons are not going to make this country stronger. That kind of thinking will destroy us from within.

Mr. Commander, I believe that in your heart of hearts you mean well, but you have really tumbled off the track in your insistence we all should heavily arm ourselves.

One final thing about: Your quote: “If you are between 17 and 45 and not exempted, then you are in the militia. It’s not your choice. This is your duty, as the law specifies. So banning guns or raising the age limit is in effect contrary to federal law.”

First of all, this wouldn’t hold up in a court of law. I thank God that we still have a judiciary system to preserve our constitutional rights and to settle issues like this. Second, as American citizens, we still live in a democracy and still have some free choice in the matter; therefore, we are NOT all part of a militia, whether you like it or not.

Patricia Bell-Lanford is a transplant from northern Illinois who loves mild Central Texas winters and vows never to take them for granted. She is also a retired Temple College instructor who lives in Woodway.