I grew up with about every type of gun except automatic weapons — BB gun, 22 rifle, 30 caliber rifle, 4-10 shotgun, and a 38 revolver that had allegedly been used in a murder (so the policeman told my father to whom he gave it — kept in a safe). The upshot was that I became a pretty good shot (it was WW2 then and I was eager to serve as did two of my uncles). I was eventually turned off guns by a dear English nurse who had become the guardian of a good friend and his two sisters when their parents were killed. Canie one day pointed out to me that the small bird that I had just killed might have been the mother of little ones now orphaned. And another happening made me vividly aware of the hazards of guns. Bill, my friend, had managed to persuade Canie that he should have a shotgun. Finally she yielded. One day Bill jokingly pretended he was going to shoot a sister. He had pried the buckshot out of a shell in the gun. At the last moment he aimed at the ceiling and fired — where a large hole appeared. He had removed only 1 of 2 layers of buckshot. Adlai Stevenson, Democratic Presidential candidate versus Eisenhower, killed a playmate with an ‘unloaded’ gun.

What the gun nuts do not realize is that the vast majority of people killed by guns in this country are suicides and accident victims — often kids.

A word about my WW2 uncles. One joined the army and, during the pursuit of the Nazis up the Italian peninsula, was in a tent with his buddies hit by a German shell. Only he survived. The other uncle with a bad back joined the Merchant Marines and went through the hell of pursuit by German subs trip after trip. The worst event was his ship ramming an ammunition ship in a major ammunition unloading waterfront area. Fortunately they hit the crews’ quarters and did not blow the city to hell. Both uncles had enlisted from high school. Neither returned to finish. All five of their sisters obtained college and some professional degrees. Both lived lives stunted by alcohol. Possibly the one in the tent suffered brain damage such as we now recognize.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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