Taking a stance on gun control

September 28, 2013

Fishing is going through a changing period. The cool weather combined with north and northeast winds have moved some fish out of the bay and will bring others down the coast. As of last weekend, croaker were moving out while big spot remained in the tidal rivers. Flounder fishing was very good in the ocean late last week, but is falling off in the bay. Blues in the three- to four-pound range were caught around the Outer Wall, and small trout were taken at the lower bay reef sites.

Surf fishing has been slow, but the mullet run should begin to bring decent-size blues to the beach. Indian River Inlet has seen larger bluefish, along with a few more keeper rockfish.

Gun control

I have kept quiet about gun control, but the recent shooting in Washington, D.C. has reignited the gun control debate and it is well past time to address the situation.

The gun control debate would appear to be between the radical right and the radical left if you only listen to the TV news reports. I believe there are many gun owners who do not belong to either group, and I consider myself one of that number.

My first gun was a Daisy Red Ryder BB rifle. Yes, it was the same model made famous in the movie "A Christmas Story," and I did get it as a Christmas present.

Next I purchased a Remington .22 caliber bolt-action single-shot rifle with money made delivering the Journal Every Evening. I was 11 or 12, and all I had to do was hand the man at the hardware store the money, and he gave me the rifle.

Since then I have acquired a few more guns, either through purchase or inheritance. I also bought my two sons Remington 870 Express 12-guage shotguns, and I own a Remington 870 Wingmaster. As you may recall, the shooter in D.C. used a Remington 870. He did shorten the barrel and the stock, but it was still an 870.

This is the first mass shooting where the shooter used a gun without a large capacity for ammunition. He had to reload after five shots, and it is a much slower process to put five shells into a pump shotgun than to snap on another 100-round clip.

Other than the choice of weapon, the shooter had one thing in common with others who have followed this path. He was mentally unstable, and due to the way society and the law treat people who have mental health problems, he was able to purchase a weapon.

All current and proposed gun laws will not stop a mentally deranged person from arming himself unless his illness has caused him to be convicted of a crime. Not that convicted felons can’t buy firearms, but they cannot go into a gun shop and make that purchase. The suspect did just that the day before he killed 12 people.

So how do we stop people with mental illness from buying guns? I don’t think we can. Even if the person in question seeks help from a mental health professional, exactly how does that person know for sure his patient is going to go on a killing spree?

The D.C. shooter heard voices in his head. It is my understanding that this is not unusual for certain types of mentally ill people, but unless the patient informs the professional that the voices are telling him to kill people, I see no way that the information will be passed on to law enforcement. We have privacy laws that protect people with any type of illness, so information about a mental illness is just as secure as information about heart disease or cancer.

Some of the Looney Tunes on the left believe we should do away with all firearms, while their brother and sister Looney Tunes on the right believe the government is planning to do just that. Sorry, boys and girls, but that ain’t goin’ to happen.

The Second Amendment has been upheld by the highest court in the land as giving law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms. Period!

The argument that the founding fathers never envisioned a day when a rifle capable of firing 100 rounds or more without reloading would be available to the public has no bearing on the subject. Congress did pass a law prohibiting such weapons, but it has expired and has no chance of returning anytime soon.

It seems to me that the situation, as deplorable as it is, will remain the same. In a free society, there will be people who will go on killing sprees, and so long as the society remains free, there is nothing we can do to stop the carnage.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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