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To the Editor:

I was born and raised in Brookings, Oregon, growing up in the ’50s and ’60s. It was a time when artist Norman Rockwell captured the “Spirit of America” on every cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Let me share a few snapshots of some things I remember.

It was a time when turning 5 years of age meant summertime swimming lessons in the Chetco River. A river that had plenty of water over my head. But this wasn’t the only safety lesson for me to learn at a young age.

On my seventh birthday, I was given my first Daisy BB gun.

It came with plenty of “strings attached.” I was reminded to handle my rifle safely, like my Dad and big brother taught me, or else. Back then it was just common sense to require responsibility and good judgement from a 7-year-old.

Thanks to Mr. Harley Mitts, his dedication to Brookings youth and his hunters safety course, many of us became certified safe hunters by age 12.

I shot my first buck at age 13 with a military 30-06 out hunting with my Dad. The next year, hunting alone, I shot my first 4-point using a 7mm Mouser I purchased myself. I know, the times were different then.

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Pickups in town had Winchester 30-30s in the gun rack. Especially the loggers. The same was true for pickups in the high school parking lot. Few rigs were ever locked up, because without “permission to touch,” you kept your hands off someone else’s property.

What is it we’ve lost in America since the 1950s? Mass shootings continue to rise, decade after decade, but are firearms the problem? Nothing about firearms themselves has changed. What seems to have culturally changed in recent decades is the number of tormented minds that are bent on violence. I wonder why they feel they have nothing to lose?

Passing more gun laws won’t make a difference … why? It has already been done. The states with the most restrictive gun laws still lead the country in gun violence.

We will eventually find the answer, but it won’t come through more gun control. It will come through the can-do spirit of our God-given freedom.

Norman Rockwell, we miss you.

Art Hall

Philomath

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