By Kenneth Kowald
I fired a weapon twice in my life, on two successive days.
After I was drafted, I spent two cold and dreary weeks in tents at Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, N.J. A group of us were shipped out in the middle of the night on Washington’s birthday. We did not know where we were going, but we were happy to be going anywhere.
Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the headquarters of the Ordnance Department, was our destination. During my eight weeks of basic training, we never carried a rifle. Our weapon was the carbine, a lighter piece of armament, the weapon of ordnance soldiers.
But our firing range tests were with the standard rifle at the time, an M1. The aptitude tests the U.S. Army gave me showed I would be a good cook. To this day, I can barely boil water! I learned there was a position in the public relations office and on the weekly paper. I had to pass the firing range test.
On the first day on the range, I was in the prone position when an officer came up to me and said, “What target are you shooting at, soldier?”
“No. 24, sir!”
“Are you shooting at the target or the number under the target?”
I failed that day.
That night, two of my friends in the company who had passed the test made plans to man the target I would be shooting at the next day. We did not exaggerate my prowess, if any, but I passed and have a medal somewhere to prove it.
I never had a fake gun when I was a kid and neither did any of my friends in Borough Park or Elmhurst. We pointed our index fingers at each other and made believe we were shooting. We saw westerns and gangster films with guns in them.
So the pandemic of weapons in our country is foreign to me. Since I am a meat eater, I do not begrudge hunters their sport, but must people have weapons of mass destruction that are used by armies and law enforcement authorities? Indeed, must anyone have a weapon except for sport and game hunting?
I know what is in the U.S. Constitution, but let us get past that. The Constitution is not the Ten Commandments. It was written on parchment, not handed down from Mount Sinai. It has been interpreted for 200 years. It was written by human beings. It is not the voice of God.
The Constitution spells out our rights. In a democracy, rights go hand-in-glove with responsibilities.
Those who want everyone to have guns think this is some holy command. Concealed weapons, in some places in this country, can be taken into schools, colleges, houses of worship, restaurants, shops, theaters, etc.
Why not supply all teachers, clergy and everyone else in the United States, including children, with assault weapons and be done with it?
It is time to stop this horror. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been on the right track for years. President Barack Obama, as I write this, has gone four years without having the guts to take on the National Rifle Association and its puppets in Congress and has allowed some laws to be repealed or not renewed.
He has talked the talk, but not walked the walk. There are signs that he is taking some steps, at last.
He, like other politicians, likes to quote Holy Scripture when it suits their purposes. They might consider this paraphrase from Paul (formerly Saul): Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and take no action, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Let us be thankful that our local members of Congress are not among the NRA puppets. It is time to speak up and start to turn this nation around from a gun-toting rampage.
It is either that or arming everyone, even children. Those congressional NRA puppets are often those who speak out against “unelected” bureaucrats directing our lives.
Who elected the NRA to direct our lives? The public statements by this group since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., border on paranoia and dementia.
But this attitude is not new for the NRA. It should not come as a surprise. Check out the biography of Wayne LaPierre, the guy who runs the place.
Is the NRA the image of our country we want? Should the NRA determine who lives and dies in this democracy?
This marksman will never fire another weapon. Be thankful about that as I am, because I might just kill someone, considering my prowess.