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I have a terrible confession to make. You see, even though I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, am not a hunter and never even considered Charlton Heston a particularly good actor, I have no objection to my fellow citizens owning guns.

Understand, I am referring to decent, law-abiding people who realize this is a rather violent society and the police can’t be everywhere at once. Without weapons, how are people supposed to protect themselves from rapists, killers and home invaders?

With a kazillion guns already in circulation – Brady Bill or no Brady Bill – I’m afraid we’ll never again see the day that criminals have to make do with rocks and sharp sticks.

Oddly enough, it’s often the very same people who get irate about their neighbors having the means to defend themselves who are the folks most opposed to mandatory sentences for gun-toting felons. It’s as if they’re against the possession of guns by amateurs, but hate the idea of denying professionals the necessary tools of their trade.

However politically correct one chooses to be, the fact remains that in those states where people are allowed to carry weapons, crime statistics plummet. And for once, statistics are borne out by common sense. After all, if you’re a punk looking to mug someone, it figures you’ll think twice if there’s a good chance your intended victim is better armed than you.

But where guns are concerned, statistics and common sense rarely have the power to sway anyone’s opinion. Both sides are slaves to their emotions and their political agendas.

On the one hand, you have people convinced that guns are never used defensively to safeguard the innocent. On the other side, you have paid and unpaid lobbyists for the gun industry, wrapping themselves in the Constitution, pretending that the Founding Fathers had Uzis and machine guns in mind when they drafted the Bill of Rights.

In terms of public relations, I think it would be wise if, just once, when some kid blasts a schoolmate, Michael Moore and the rest of the anti-gun fanatics didn’t take such obvious delight in using the incident to beat the opposition over the head. In a nation of 280 million people, bad stuff is going to happen. It’s a rotten shame, but it’s unavoidable. Believe me, schoolyard bullies – not bullets – are a far bigger source of terror to most of our kids.

There is conclusive proof that the anti-gun zealots are less concerned with the safety of young people than they are with their own holy mission – otherwise, they would put guns on the backburner and concentrate, instead, on getting teenagers off the road. In a country where millions of adolescents are encouraged to start driving cars – cars fueled by a deadly mixture of gasoline and high-octane hormones – one can only laugh at the anti-gun crowd’s pretense that public safety is their number one priority.

The battle, for the most part, comes down to liberals vs. conservatives. As usual, liberals turn their backs on common sense, preferring to appear compassionate. At the same time, conservatives, while basically fronting for business interests, typically carry on as if they were doing the Lord’s work.

Because they are stuck with an agenda, liberals are forced to parrot anti-gun propaganda even when – like columnist Carl Rowan and Sen. Dianne Feinstein – they, themselves, are discovered to be packing heat. And surely I wasn’t the only person who yawned when Sharon Stone made such a big deal out of turning in her three roscoes. The point might have been made more forcefully if her bodyguards had turned in their artillery.

Do I think everyone should have a gun? Of course not. But is that something that keeps me up nights? Hardly.

Of far greater concern to me are the yahoos driving around in those lethal, over-sized, gas-guzzling, lane-straddling, sport-utility vehicles. Armed with a feisty attitude and a few tons of steel, every soccer mom has become a full-fledged menace to society. I swear, there are more tanks to be found in the parking lot at the local supermarket than Gen. George Patton had to face during the entire North African campaign.

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