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Thinking About Guns

by Fred Cederholm

I have a big problem with the over-the-counter sales of assault, automatic, and semi-automatic weapons plus the unrestricted sales of armor piercing ammo to any civilian who desires to own/possess them.
I’ve been thinking about guns. Actually I’ve been thinking about the Northern Illinois University shootings, reason and logic, legislation, twenty-seven words, profiling, and the NRA.

Last Thursday on St. Valentine’s Day, a deranged individual took five innocent lives and wounded sixteen others in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University just ten miles east of my home. This horrific incident comes on the heels of the shooting-murder of a well-respected attorney in nearby Rockford as he cleared the snow in front of his home. THAT was preceded by a mass shooting of shoppers at a suburban mall near Chicago just weeks before these other recent killings. The NIU shooter took his own life, while the two (or more) other killers still remain at large.

You see last Saturday when I volunteered to register voters at the League of Women Voters’ booth as part of the Rochelle Business Expo, several of my local readers stopped by to comment about my recent columns. All hoped I would address the escalation of this senseless armed violence which has of late been the story on page one. This is NOT a column I particularly want to write because everyone has a personal opinion on the subject - it is a lose/no win situation for me. These shootings are on everyone’s mind as well they well should be. Something must be done, but what?

While I personally have not owned a firearm, I don’t have a problem with those who own rifles for hunting and sport target practice. I also don’t have a problem with those who own handguns to protect their homes, families, and persons as long as they are properly vetted, licensed, and trained. I do have a big problem with the over-the-counter sales of assault, automatic, and semi-automatic weapons plus the unrestricted sales of armor piercing ammo to any civilian who desires to own/possess them. Could someone please explain to me why a private individual would need (or even want) such weaponry? I’ve never understood the rationale behind this and am totally baffled.

In the coming months, there will be a renewed push to enact additional legislation that will try “to protect us from ourselves.” Most recently... there was the attempt to create gun free zones. This sounds good on paper, but is any criminal or deranged person going to honor it? The NIU campus was a gun free zone and just what (in hindsight) did that accomplish? Not much!

Once again we will see the twenty-seven words of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution dissected and debated. These are: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Just what was the intent of the framers, and how have the conditions/logic behind such evolved or changed since 1791? Until repealed/modified, the Second Amendment remains the law of the land.

Since 9-11, profiling – a segmenting of the population by certain demographic characteristics for investigative purposes – has gotten a bum rap. There are certain factors and characteristics which history has shown to be central to identification of perpetrators. Every horrific mass shooting (since Columbine) has involved persons who were identified with certain problems, had taken specific medications, or had stopped taking them. In all cases there were lapses in the availability of such information for the existing vetting process. The issue reduces to whether the right to privacy supersedes the protection or welfare of the general population. This presents no small dilemma!

The National Rifle Association is more than a well-funded gun lobby. It is fine organization that is really about safety, respect, and training. Their informational materials/videos are excellent. As a private organization, membership by ALL gun owners cannot be required, but it should be highly recommended.

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2008 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

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This story was published on February 18, 2008.