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RFT Founder Ray Hartmann Really Lets the NRA Have It

Categories: Politics
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This is the kind of gun used to kill 27 in Newtown
Some you readers are gun-rights absolutists. We know this from the comments you leave on our blog posts.

Thus you may be interested to know that on Friday,  just hours after a deranged young man shot and killed 27 people (including 20 children) in a Connecticut school, Riverfront Times' founder Ray Hartmann wrote a message directly to you on the blog of his St. Louis Magazine
Those poor little children in Connecticut were a lot more precious than your Second Amendment rights could ever be.

Chew on that for a second.

Now, anybody who's ever watched Donnybrook will know that Hartmann leans left, but that doesn't mean he's a dove: Just hours after the barbaric attacks of September 11, 2001, he wrote in our pages (which were still his at the time) that if the jihadists insist on war, then we should oblige them with one.

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RFT founder Ray Hartmann
Similarly, on Friday, Hartmann wrote that our nation has just suffered a 9/11-type tragedy on gun control, and we should declare war on assault weapons. His solution: Renew the 1994 federal assault weapons ban.

That law, which expired in 2004, prohibited certain assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 rounds.

What difference would this have made in Newtown? The media is now reporting that police who investigated the grisly crime scene in Newtown recovered several spent magazines of 30 rounds.

It stands to reason that if the shooter would've had to reload more often, he would've been slowed down. Perhaps a few lives would've been spared before authorities caught up with him.

(A gun-rights absolutist might argue that, no, a ban on high-capacity magazines wouldn't even have helped because the madman could've just reloaded really fast. Well then, fine: You can do the same thing when you're "defending" your property with an over-the-top assault rifle used by Western militaries)

So why did the assault weapons ban expire in 2004? Hartmann blames the influence of the National Rifle Association, and wonders what they're doing right now:

The NRA can go to hell.

If NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre was a real man, he'd make his way to Connecticut to explain to those grieving parents that the guns didn't kill their children, the shooter did. Or maybe he could tell them that the tragedy could have been avoided if only the teachers had been armed, or perhaps the children were themselves. Or maybe he could tell them about how precious the Second Amendment is.

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Wayne LaPierre of the NRA
You'll rarely -- maybe never -- hear a mainstream American politician speak this way, because the NRA has incredible sway over them. But there's a reason for that, which Hartmann doesn't mention: The NRA have incredible sway over voters. As we've written before, they're adept at stoking fear among members that the Obama administration has a secret plan to strip them of their guns and leave them defenseless in their homes.

Somehow, for certain people, that abstract and outlandish notion is scarier and more real than events like Newtown. 

We agree with Hartmann when he wrote that a balance is necessary:

Yes, gun ownership should be legal, but it's not a civil liberty that must be uniquely protected from any form of regulation. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can threaten to kill people. Freedom of religion doesn't mean you can perform ritual sacrifices. Freedom of assembly doesn't mean you never need a parade permit.

So the question is, what's the right balance? What's more precious to you? Keeping the Second Amendment safe from any restrictions, or keeping our children safe from assault-rifle-toting lunatics? 

As assault-weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004 might not be the magic solution. But it's certainly hard to imagine someone inflicting the same damage with a knife, or even a hunting rifle.

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