y thirteen-year-old daughter clutched her Teddy Bear that I gave her for Valentine’s Day and climbed into the arms of her mother the day after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

As a teenager, stuffed animals aren’t always within her reach, anymore. Most of her stuffed animals have been packed up and put away. She explained to her mother and me that she was afraid to go to school because of fear of being shot at school, although there was no immediate threat or concern to that effect. In this day and time, our children are suffering from effects similar to post traumatic stress disorder from seeing all the bloodshed and violence on television.

After the mayhem in Parkland, politicians of all stripes appeared on television to call for prayers and thoughts for the victims, which is entirely appropriate. Yes, indeed, we need to pray to the Almighty for an end to this carnage and suffering.

It is worthy to note that both President Ronald Reagan and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated that assault rifles, like the AR-15 military-grade weapon used to mow down students in Florida, were not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

At the time, President Reagan and our FBI were grappling with gang warfare on our city streets. We now have our children being murdered in our schools shopping malls and churches.

Not too long ago, law enforcement officers in Dallas were ambushed and murdered with assault-style weapons. Country music fans in Las Vegas were slaughtered by a shooter in a high-rise hotel on the Las Vegas strip who utilized a so-called “bump stock” to slaughter human beings.

When will the carnage stop?

I believe and hold sacred what the Second Amendment says when it states that as Americans, we are guaranteed the right to bear arms. It does not address these military-grade assault-style weapons that have no practical purpose for hunting wildlife or personal protection.

Before writing this column, I picked up the phone and called my 90-year-old father Bob. A lifelong, card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association, Dad has owned several guns over the years, including a .45-caliber pistol which I used, with rat shot ammo loaded in the chambers — for target practice when I was a kid — a 12-gauge Remington which he used to hunt deer, in season, of course, and the several guns he bought for me including my old 410 to shoot squirrel and my first gun, a Daisy BB gun.

My father agreed with me — and he can speak for himself — there is no good reason that AR-15 assault weapons should be sold outside the needs of police and the military, especially to an 18 year-old with a history of mental illness and publicly posted comments about shooting children.

Dad agreed with me that the NRA, of which he has been a long-paying dues member, had gone off the rails when it comes to lobbying against common sense provisions in gun ownership, such as temporary protection orders which keeps guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people — not law abiding citizens who rightfully can and should possess firearms under the law.

People with a history of mental illness should be restricted from possession of firearms along with other proper and necessary background checks to see if one is a felon or has a criminal record such as domestic violence.

Sadly, some of these very provisions were done away with in January of 2017 with the new administration.

Shortly after the mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip in which 57 people lost their lives, Congress discussed restricting bump stocks that have no other reason but to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic ones with machine-gun-like precision.

That effort faded just as the headlines of that horrific day faded from view.

The issue of people with a history of mental illness not having immediate access to guns is a common sense issue. It should not be a partisan issue.

Sadly, shortly after the school shooting in Florida, people and politicians retreated to their respective familiar corners and spouted rigid, fixed talking points — on both sides.

Let’s come together to stop the slaughter.

ROBERT LEE LONG  is the Community Editor. He may be contacted at or at 662-429-6397, ext. 252.

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