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On Owning Guns

June 18, 1989

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the gun owners' view regarding Art Buchwald's "Deer Hunters Get Drop on Bambi" (June 6). A misconception is that semiautomatic firearms are justified by our supposed right to hunt. This is not the case. The framers of the Constitution saw the necessity of an armed citizenry for the purpose of maintaining a free society. In those days, a military assault rifle was a muzzle-loaded flintlock gun. Today they are semiautomatic and full automatic firearms.

While it is a legitimate debate in our society about how to protect ourselves from the criminal misuse of firearms, we must keep in mind what a tyrannical government can do to an unarmed civil population. We are seeing a clear demonstration of a government spilling its citizens' blood with impunity, secure in the knowledge that they, the tyrants, have all the guns. The Second Amendment was written not so we could hunt deer, but so we could deter our government from stealing our freedom.

A word on hunting. During the 19th Century, subsistence hunting came close to destroying the herds of big game--to near extinction. By the turn of the century, sportsmen took action by getting game laws and enacting enforcement through the states. License fees were set and paid for it all. By the 1930s, most big-game species were making a recovery, but sports-minded people decided more should be done. They went to Congress and got a tax on all firearms and ammunition of 11%. This money has enabled what is now heralded as a miraculous recovery of the big-game species to the point that many have overgrown the available habitat. The threat to them now is the further loss of habitat to human development.

Currently, no big-game species in this country are endangered. Hunting is highly regulated. Harvests are set at very conservative margins in numbers of animals. We hunters feel we have paid the way for the survival of big game for nearly a century now, and have demonstrated the right to hunt and take animals in accordance with the law.

CURTIS CAMPBELL

Huntington Beach

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