Grandpa's gun laws

Posted Monday, Feb. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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My six-times-great-grandfather, John Steel, was a pioneer in 18th-century Pennsylvania. As a Presbyterian minister in the frontier town of Carlisle, he was known as the "fighting parson" and carried his rifle into the pulpit with him on Sunday mornings.

In those days, he never knew when he would be confronted with the need to defend his congregation or hunt for Sunday dinner. He would have been well aware of the British embargo on guns and ammunition, which later sparked the creation of the Second Amendment.

Recently, I wondered what Great-Grandpa John would think about current debates on gun control.

In his day, when folks knew their neighbors, background checks were unnecessary. To Great-Grandpa John, a hunting rifle and a military rifle were one and the same. In fact, a modern assault weapon could kill or injure a large number of people in the time it took him to load and fire.

I imagine that a thoughtful consideration of the tragic mass slayings in 21st-century America would lead this no-nonsense Scotch-Irish preacher to support background checks for all gun owners and a limit on the kinds of military weapons for sale.

-- Barbara Tucker, Saginaw

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