We did not become school room killers

By Edward Bryant Bates / Guest CommentaryFebruary 20, 2013 

As many people might remember, I am the retired sheriff/coroner of Madera County. Prior to my 12 years as sheriff, I was a detective/sergeant in Stanislaus County, later a special agent with the fraud and arson bureau of the National Board of Fire Underwriters.

After retirement, I taught criminology half-time at California State University, Fresno. I spent 10 years in a branch of Naval Intelligence during World War II and three years of the Cold War. I cite my experience for those who do not know me.

As sheriff/coroner, I issued gun permits to any person of Madera County who qualified according to the codes. I felt badly about that, because I felt it was not really necessary to issue permits. For many, many years in California, everyone could carry a weapon openly. Remember when you could park a pickup anywhere, with your rifle or shotgun, in a rack in plain sight? You did not even have to lock your pickup doors.

Our culture has changed. I am not 87 years of age. I carry a concealed weapon just because I am a retired law enforcement officer. But my good friends and good citizens have to pay the state of California, and go through all kinds of paperwork to obtain the same right. The Second Amendment doesn't say anything about paying for your rights.

My fifth great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution as a militia man with the North Carolina Militia. All he had to do was bring his weapon with him and he was ready to engage the British, and he did. His son was with the Kentucky militia in the War of 1812, and all he did was bring his weapon and he engaged the American Indians and British.

Another son later was with the Texas Rangers in the War with Mexico. He too was ready. My dad enlisted in the Army in 1917. I enlisted in 1942 when I was 16 (I forged a Bible and said that I was 18). My son was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam war, but was rejected for a back injury suffered in high school.

None of us had to be trained with firearms. We already knew how to handle them because we handled weapons all of our lives. Fourteen million men and women were engaged in World War II. We used machine guns. We used rifles and pistols and shotguns. We did not become school room killers. Our young men and women are returning from combat, now skilled with pistols and automatic weapons. They are not school room killers.

What is to blame? A change in our culture. Do any of us doubt that the era depicted in Norman Rockwell's paintings of typical American culture is now gone forever? So called "social justice," "social media," and "social education" -- it goes on and on.

We need to return to old-fashioned Americanism, church, God, home and country. When an occasional "odd" ball appears, allow police, schools, parents and other social agencies take notice and take action.

Taking guns from good citizens is not the answer to "gun problems."

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