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COLUMN: Own a bazooka? Fine with me, just keep it at home

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Mike Colombo is the Rome News-Tribune managing editor.

A Reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20: Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” — from “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”

In the movie, “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” a group of monks has to call upon the Book of Armaments to destroy a flesh-eating rabbit. While some might find the scene somewhat sacrilegious, the need for a holy hand grenade to vanquish an angry rabbit did make me chuckle. It kind of reminds of the Georgia’s expansion of gun-carry rights. Except more people carrying concealed weapons really isn’t very funny.

Over the years, people far wiser than me have taught me that there is often a wide gulf between what you CAN do and what you SHOULD do. I understand the constitutional arguments in favor of gun-carry laws, but I also understand the argument that some things just aren’t smart. More people carrying guns in public isn’t. I don’t care what statistics you want to pull out of your ... ear ... to show me how gun violence has dropped in areas where more people are allowed to carry. I’ll show you statistics to the contrary.

Let me make one thing very clear: I don’t care if you have a sidewinder missile, a bazooka and an M-16 at your domicile to protect yourself from the zombie apocalypse. If someone comes into your house with the intent to do you harm, you have my permission to dispose of them in any manner you find desirable. Just don’t kill a Girl Scout wrestling with a box of cookies or an elderly man with dementia who rings your doorbell at 1 a.m. The latter did happen in Walker County and the man was shot dead by someone “standing their ground.”

Poor Oscar Pistorius. He’s the South African guy standing trial for fatally shooting his model girlfriend through the bathroom door of his flat. Too bad he isn’t living in Georgia. He could argue she was planning to behead him with dental floss. In Northwest Georgia he’d have a shot at acquittal.

There are just some things I don’t understand. For instance, why would you feel the need to carry a gun to church in the first place? Is that kind gentleman in the pew next to you going to break out an Uzi after the last verse of “Amazing Grace” because the church organist won’t step up the tempo? Who knows what the pastor is hiding under that robe? Perhaps there is fear after the plate is passed that a shortfall in coinage will cause him or her to slip over the edge and pull out a pistol. “Only $5? You’re a dead man, Colombo.” I have a red-headed female pastor. I’d hate for her to go all “Thelma & Louise” on me.

Then there is the proposal that we allow educators to carry guns in school. Yep, that’s another brilliant idea. I am by no means denigrating teachers, but do our lawmakers really think teachers are any more well-adjusted and better shots than the general population? I know and love many teachers in the Rome and Floyd County school systems. But I also know many teachers in the Rome and Floyd County school systems who have no business even owning a rock. It’s not that those specific teachers can’t be trained to safely use the rock. They just shouldn’t own one.

In all seriousness, there is no way I would feel comfortable sending my kids to a school where there are guns in the hands of faculty and staff. And I don’t believe for a minute that a teacher with a gun is going to be any match for some berserk individual with a semiautomatic gun wearing body armor. It just presents a scenario where more people will likely die, probably by errant gunfire.

In August 2012, nine bystanders were wounded by police during a shootout near the Empire State Building in New York City. The officers fatally shot a man who had killed a former coworker. I am not condemning those officers and it is possible the man they killed might have killed others, but the incident does illustrate the danger of gunfire in crowded areas, even by those trained to properly use weapons.

The gun lobby likes to quote the saying: “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” That’s both a childish and irrational way to approach the argument because ultimately, guns DO kill people. In a heated confrontation where guns are involved, there is the likelihood someone is going to be killed or seriously wounded. That is less likely to occur if we are carrying baseball bats or big sticks.

I know I am not going to change anybody’s mind with this column, and the strict constitutionalists are again going to point to their rights to carry under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The version of that amendment that was adopted by Congress and another adopted by the states BOTH include the phrase that a well-regulated militia is necessary for the defense of the United States.

In the early days of our nation, many places required gun ownership along with compulsory participation in a militia for public defense. That I understand. Carrying a gun to Vacation Bible School? That I do not.

Mike Colombo is managing editor of the Rome News-Tribune.