Clark Hollow Ramblings: Fighting fire with fire

I have read and listened to the debate about what the nation’s response should be to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. The politicians want to do something, and they very well might. Let’s just say they abolish “assault rifles” and large-capacity clips. Doing that will give them something to crow about; it will have no impact on the problem at hand.

First off, most people’s definition of an assault weapon is something that looks like what a soldier would carry. That’s about the extent of their knowledge. Some of the barely enlightened ones will spout off about the “semi-automatic” nature of these weapons.


For the record, semi-automatic weapons fire one shot every time the trigger is pulled. The rifle, pistol or shotgun “automatically” ejects the spent shell or casing when the trigger is pulled and reloads a live round, and the operator can shoot again by pulling the trigger again and again until the magazine or clip is empty. This action has been around since your granddaddy’s days. Many people who hunt have at least one such gun in their house. A lot of bird hunters use a shotgun with a semi-automatic action. Many deer hunters have a semi-automatic rifle in their gun cabinet. 

The point is the action in these guns works exactly the same as the action in the “assault rifle” that was used in the tragedy in Newtown. The more important point is that, with the proliferation of guns with this action among the populace, banning semi-automatic rifles that happen to look like something a soldier would carry will have no impact on keeping the deranged among us from doing what the shooter did in Newtown. 

Our country and its present leadership, both Democrat and Republican, does not have the political stomach to address the issue of what to do about people like the shooter at Virginia Tech or the one in Connecticut. Some will say that these individuals were never examined by competent authority and found mentally unbalanced. I say any individual who will look down the sights of a gun at a 6-year-old child and pull the trigger multiple times is terribly sick, by definition. Until and unless we have in place a system to identify and deal with these individuals, banning rifles, shotguns and handguns with semi-automatic actions – no matter what they look like – will have no impact on eliminating these tragedies from our society. 

But, as has been said, that is no excuse for taking no action.

Our school systems, where we send our precious children, expecting that, as a minimum, they will be safe, can find money for just about every program that comes down the pike. Some of these programs are mandated by the federal government and some by the state. Some of them are good for the children. Others are debatable. But I believe we should be able to find the money to make our schools safer. And I think some of the jurisdictions in Texas are on the right track.

I am not advocating a pistol in every teacher’s purse or pocket, or a bazooka in every broom closet. Teachers and administrators who have no experience with firearms and no desire to handle them should not be made to do so. But, I believe that in any collection of good people in charge of teaching our children, there will be enough individuals willing to stand up for the protection of their young charges, and be trained and certified in the use of weapons that would provide some deterrent to those set on doing our children harm. The training, certification and training updates should be provided by the school at no expense to the school employee. Full background checks of the individuals who volunteer for this duty should be conducted.

Another suggestion is to put an armed security officer in every school. Personally, I like the first suggestion better because, quite frankly, I believe it would provide the greater deterrent. But, an armed security officer in every school is better than doing nothing. 

I realize these suggestions are controversial. Some will think them outrageous. I think they are better than doing nothing, and far better than doing something that will have no effect other than to give the politicians something to crow about.

Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 154 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.


  1. Yes, some who are horrified by the killing of 20 6 year olds do not know a lot about guns, but that is not the point. The point is that highly lethal weapons, such as used in Conn, at Va. Tech and in the theater in Colorado
    are easily available in this Country. This must change without harming the valid possession of, and use of, the valid less lethal firearms. I think that these “lesser capability” weapons should be unregulated.
    Your column says what the NRA guy said a week after the horror in Conn. This is, essentially, that the easy availablity of the type of “guns” used had nothing to the
    killing. This is completely wrong, and says to me that
    you and the NRA think that “these 20 deaths are an acceptable cost for “assault weapon freedon””. I do not know if that is what you believe, or not. I hope not.
    Your, and the NRA’s, “solutions” are, to me rediculous
    because they ignore the real problem. In my opinion, there needs to be a differentiation between the type of weapons used in Conn. and what I consider to be “valid”
    firearms. This would require a logical solution but I am
    not optomistic that this possible because the distance between the “no guns” and the “all guns” (such as yourself) groups. Since the Conn. killing of 6 year olds,
    I have been watching “news” and other sources to see if anyone, except myself, has presented any valid reasons for citicens to possess these weapons. I have seen none. My reason is these weapons have a small place for “hobby”
    shooting, but with strict controls on ownership and use.
    In closing, I think that there needs to be different catagories for “valid” firearms and the type weapons used
    in our recent mass killings and that their status in this Country need to considered seperately.
    Jim Warwick

  2. Good article. I couldn’t agree more with the thought of banning something (big magazines, etc.) simply to impress the uninformed. The real issue is and always has been the shooter, not the weapon of choice!

  3. I wholeheartedly concur with this authors opinions. I am not currently a gun person, never have been and don’t really see myself taking an interest in them as a part of any hobby whatsoever. Aside from that, I grew up in a school run by the American DOD in Europe, guarded by both armed Missouri National Guardsman and Belgian Gens D’armes each toting M16’s and Oozies, respectively. During Desert Shield/Storm, their measures were raised to include bomb sniffing dogs, and top-down searches of every vehicle that entered campus. Once a teacher of mine even surprised us by firing a blank in the classroom.

    After moving Stateside, I went to a University patrolled by its own armed police force in conjunction with that of our surrounding city. While there, kids on campus got shot at by local thugs, one girl murdered by a serial killer using a hammer. Then a friend of mine invited me home with him one day to try a variety of firearms. While impressed with the craftsmanship involved in producing these weapons, I still had no desire to own or further delve in this activity…I was not enthused. Since then I have found myself in a number of situations that made me seriously reconsider owning a weapon like a handgun or reasonably sized rifle. However, that just has not been my path up to this point. Quite frankly, I wish these things, just like nuclear or chemical weapons could simply be uninvented. But wishing for a better world knowing that my kids were protected doesn’t make it happen. I should know that armed security is the way to go.

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