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Re-think needed on role of lethal weapons in our society

The Connecticut massacre is yet another reminder of the devastation and grief that can be wrought by guns that fall into the wrong hands.

Gun ownership needs to be subjected to far greater restrictions, and not only in the USA. Apart from murderous outrages that grab the media headlines, there is an increasing use of firearms in suicides and domestic rows in our own country, leaving aside the criminal fraternity.

I have no objection to non-live target shooting as takes place at the Olympics and numerous less-publicised competitions, or indeed to the professional use of guns by wildlife rangers who need to cull pest species in the interests of conservation, but I have a major problem with the way gun usage is promoted by certain NGOs and groups that class themselves as “sportspeople”.

I came across a website a few months ago, since taken down, titled Make Friends with Guns. It eulogised the killing of all sorts of wild birds and animals and featured quotes from hunters who told of the joys of killing with a firearm and the “rush” they felt when they pulled the trigger and saw a live creature turned into a dead or dying one.

It also carried hundreds of photographs of people posing with guns of various kinds; their feet proudly pressed unto the still warm carcasses of their quarry, and pictures of mangled animals held aloft by these smirking gun-lovers.

There wasn’t a trace of compassion on their faces.

I have for some time found this over fondness for guns deeply unhealthy, and my distaste was certainly increased by the knowledge that the two killers of Jamie Bulger in England had been shooting cats with air rifles in the months leading up to the horrific killing.

Was the insensitivity developed via this sadistic targeting of animals a factor in the subsequent tragedy?

I don’t mean to besmirch the many people who own guns for legitimate defensive or sporting purposes, but I think we need to have a serious re-think about the role of these lethal weapons in our society.

Joe Burke

Lismore Lawns

Waterford


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