Family and friends have convinced me it’s time to speak out. All the rhetoric and boasting swirling around social media about gun rights and gun control is so loud and, at times, irresponsible that it’s becoming meaningless.
I am calling on veterans who have served in active combat – lived and almost died depending on the assault weapon strapped to your body – to speak out. We are the people who have true insight on this issue. Without wealth and connections to keep a deferment, I was drafted and in active combat for a year in Vietnam from Nov. 1967 to Nov. 1968. During the Tet offensive in Jan. ’68, some of the worst fighting in the war, I was frequently in first-hand combat along the Mekong River and through the rice paddies in the delta radioing coordinates for artillery firepower.
Assault weapons are just that: for assault. They are not for the general public to play at target practice or use for sport. They are too dangerous. The general public is not trained sufficiently nor mentally strategic enough to understand their raw power. They should be in the hands of only the military and tactical, highly trained law enforcement.
Disagree with me? If you’re a veteran and served in active combat with an assault weapon, I value your opinion – even if it differs from mine. If you’re simply a gun enthusiast who believes it’s your inalienable right to play with assault weapons, I don’t value it because you really don’t understand the consequences – you haven’t witnessed them. If that’s who you are and what you want, join the military and be useful with that.
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I believe in the Second Amendment. I own a gun. I have a concealed carry permit just in case I need it – not to carry routinely. What’s the old saying ... if you carry around a hammer, you’re always looking for a nail?
I also understand the Second Amendment’s purpose when it was written and the state of weaponry when it was created. It’s called perspective – useful when you’re forming opinions and making decisions.
I call out our N.C. senators in Washington who consistently vote against stricter background checks, reinstating the assault weapons ban, and not preventing people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. I’m amazed that politicians like Thom Tillis accept immense amounts of NRA donations and think we don’t understand that compromises the way he votes. I may not have gotten a college degree because I was fighting a war, but I’m smart enough to figure that out.
It’s time we expect more from our politicians, and be more responsible ourselves. I’m starting here.
John S. Butler owns a construction company in Denver, N.C.