PITTSFIELD

Using the Second Amendment as an excuse for anybody and his nutty grandmother to possess a gun is the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time. This strongly held opinion of mine was exacerbated by the third Colorado shooting, of course. I am sick of hearing experts opine earnestly about the need for better mental health screening. The truth is that you can’t necessarily tell when an otherwise sensible-sounding person will crack.

This normal-appearing boy in Colorado was driven to murder just because some teacher wouldn’t let him be on the debating team. I recall a case of a kid who was in constant trouble in school, whose Daddy was some teacher in a little college, called himself "professor" and was nasty to this boy for his bad marks. The mother did the best she could, helping him with his homework, but one day she got tired of it and told him he really had to begin to do it on his own. So he shot her.

Equally stupid, in my strongly held opinion, is the usefulness of background checks of whatever kind. Worthless for the same reasons. Also note that the Second Amendment does not even specify who may own a gun. It simply says that a country needs to have an armed militia. But the way the amendment is written, anybody -- a smart-aleck adolescent, half-witted Uncle Joe, your neighbor who tortures his dog, or anybody else -- can possess a gun. It permits the militia to be armed but doesn’t specifically forbid gun ownership to civilians. So when you want to legalize guns for civilians don’t quote the Second Amendment nor argue that there is nothing that can be done about it.

Since 1970, more Americans (nearly 1.4 million) have died here in America from guns than soldiers have died (1.2 million) in all the wars in our 200-year history. Why otherwise civilized men feel the need to maintain a killing machine handy to prove their manhood is something I will have to leave up to the psychiatrists. And why a grown man feels that his fun at target practice is well worth the agony of the little girl in Sandy Hook who lived for a few minutes after half her jaw was shot off is mind boggling.

That being the case, the only civilized thing to do, in my strongly held opinion, is to make gun ownership by a civilian a federal offense. Gun stores keep records of who has bought a gun. They also keep records of who has bought ammo. A big buy-back would be a start. Asking countries that have abolished guns successfully might give us some valuable advice. You might even forbid the manufacture of ammo except for the army.

It’ll never happen. Too many people in Congress are afraid they will lose their Important Jobs if they vote to abolish guns. They are probably right. But there is something awful about being the only big, developed, supposedly civilized country in the world that happily permits its citizens to mangle little kids and call it freedom.

Dorothy van den Honert is an occasional Eagle contributor.