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Dean Hulse, Fargo, Published February 01 2013

Letter: Common sense on gun issues

The phrasing of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is absolutely straightforward: Any attempt by Congress to limit freedoms cited therein is unconstitutional (“Congress shall make no law …”). Nonetheless, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously opined: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

Public safety trumps individual freedoms. Consensus has determined that falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater goes beyond our rights as citizens.

And yet, the American gun culture provides an opportunity for anyone with the means to open fire in a crowded theater.

If public safety is society’s primary goal, then only members of a “well-regulated militia” should be able to possess assault weapons and magazines capable of holding anything more than a few bullets. Weapons not capable of such massive destruction should still be available to the general public for private protection and sport.

For those who aren’t members of a well-regulated militia but desire to shoot assault weapons, the guns could be accessible – for rent – through licensed, bonded, insured shooting ranges, which would sell ammunition, own the guns and be responsible for keeping the inventory under lock and key.

Finally, before anyone is allowed to pull the trigger of an assault weapon, he or she would need to participate in a process including training as well as a mental health evaluation.