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Dear Editor:

Several years ago Woody Guthrie wrote, “This land is your land, This land is my land, From California to the New York island, This land was made for you and me. “ It’s a happy song and has always been popular with all age groups, I believe, because it speaks of a strong, healthy, positive relationship among people in this country.

Either that relationship was never real, or if it really was, perhaps we are losing it. I hear, “This land is my land” too often spoken in an entirely different context, often accompanied with, “Nobody should be able to tell me what I can or cannot do.” Ten years ago it was the seat belt requirement that impinged on people’s liberty and before that, when oil supplies were threatened, it was the 55 mile an hour speed limit that some rugged individuals railed about, calling it tyranny. Nevertheless, “Click it or ticket” has undoubtedly saved many lives (including my wife’s) and, thankful or not, many of those who’d complained are still alive, too.

The most current hullabaloo is about proposed gun control, which really has nothing to do with harsh, restrictive control at all, but in reality is no more than the type of control we are already used to and readily accept. We can’t drive a car off the dealer’s lot without being qualified for a license and  the sale being registered. We can’t vote without ourselves being registered The claim made in a letter in The SUN a couple weeks ago asserting that gun registration in Germany abetted the Nazi’s takeover there and could enable a similar tyranny here is laughable when you consider today’s technology, that a car license number can be read by a satellite in orbit. They — whoever “they” are — will know where we are.

The big argument seems to be that citizens may be denied their constitutional right, but this without considering that the Constitution is for all of society and that with rights also come responsibilities and accountability for all. Charitably we go to great lengths to assist able handicapped people to drive, but have to deny a license to a senior citizen whose vision or reaction time is seriously impaired. Add those with too many accidents or DUIs. Just as a car in the hands of such a person is a threat to life, so is a gun in the hands of an incompetent person. Both can be lethal in a matter of seconds canceling someone else’s rights, constitutional or otherwise, to life, liberty and his/her pursuit of happiness. Sadly, this is almost a common occurrence; there are 33-34 gun related fatalities per day registered in the United States.

The next time you hear Woody Guthrie’s song, hang on to that last line: This land was made for you and me.

Henry Buslepp

This story was posted on April 11, 2013.