Friday December 21, 2012

To state the obvious, last week’s Newtown tragedy compels us -- individually and collectively -- to re-examine our perspectives on this nation’s gun safety laws.

Americans’ views on gun ownership are as diverse as any other demographic. There are those who own guns for protection against home intruders and even, at the extreme, the government itself. Many sports shooters derive great recreational pleasure from guns through hunting or target shooting. And still others view guns simply as weapons of death and destruction. No matter what our individual view is, it is high time we as a nation separate reality from fantasy on this critical issue.

I agree that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made for entertaining cinema, but there comes a time when each of us has to recognize the difference between Westerns and the real world.

I understand it’s cool to imagine a school teacher’s shooting the gun out of a perp’s hand to save the day, but I moved on from the Hopalong Cassidy Saturday matinees a long time ago.

I know it’s fun to think of oneself as Maverick or the high plains drifter (as a child I worshipped John Wayne and, much later, Clint Eastwood), but at some point reality dictates that we disassociate ourselves from such fictional heroes.

No matter how swell it may make us feel to believe so, most of us are neither cowboys, nor Audie Murphy, nor Hollywood heroes. And so it is time to grow up. It is time to elevate protecting our children over protecting our right to own guns. The two objectives are not mutually exclusive. We can achieve both. But the horror of Newtown makes it clear the first must precede the second.

RICK POCOCK

Pittsfield