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Last week, we received a somewhat frantic call from a man who wanted to know about a recent arrest near Calvary Elementary School.
This was the first we╒d heard about it, so I called Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Clements. He explained that on Nov. 26, his office received a report of a suspicious truck near Calvary Elementary. Someone had parked near the school, got out and placed a note under a windshield wiper of a car in the parking lot.
Clements said the owner of the car worked at the school, but he did not know in what capacity.
Two deputies later pulled over the truck. The driver, David Ratliff of Ewing, Ky., was someone they had been trying to locate so they could serve him with an emergency protective order. After stopping him, the deputies also found two weapons hidden under clothing in his truck, and he was arrested on a concealed weapons violation.
╥As far as I know, at no time was a firearm brought onto the property of the school,╙ Clements said.
I╒m positive the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut prompted the call. The Sandy Hook shooting was horrific for many reasons, and I certainly understand why the caller was concerned about the rumors he╒d heard.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friend and neighbors all over the United States are wondering how safe our schools are. Publisher Stevie Lowery spoke with local officials about that in a story printed last week.
The Sandy Hook shooting has already prompted calls to reinstate the assault weapons ban and to ban high-capacity magazines, and on the other side of the spectrum, to encourage more people to carry concealed weapons.
Americans have strong, albeit mixed views about firearms.
In the interest of full disclosure, I╒m not a hunter. I╒ve never fired a gun, and personally, I have no desire to own one.
That said, my girlfriend has a concealed carry permit. At least one of my uncles, a former Marine, has multiple guns for self-defense, and I know many people who hunt.
I do recognize the ╥right to bear arms╙ is guaranteed by the Constitution, and I don╒t think it╒s necessary to ban guns.
But is the Second Amendment an unlimited right? I don╒t think anyone would seriously argue that citizens should have the ╥right╙ to own nuclear weapons, tanks, armed drones or other military-grade weapons.
And yet, many people have argued (successfully, based on our current laws) that they should be allowed to own military-style assault rifles.
Like I said, I╒ve never fired a gun, but I could understand why a gun enthusiast might want to fire a few rounds of a high-powered weapon just to see what it was like. I also think a place like the Knob Creek Gun Range, where the conditions are controlled, is a good venue to do something like that.
At the same time, I don╒t know any serious hunter who would use an AR-17 to hunt deer. Outside of a combat zone, does anyone need this capability?
I would support an assault weapons ban, but realistically, I don╒t think it will happen. I do think limiting the number of rounds that can be fired at one time is more likely to be politically feasible.
But I also wonder what can really be done to stop something like Sandy Hook. Mass shootings have occurred in places with lax gun laws and in places with strict gun laws.
Besides, the deadliest school attack in U.S. history was not committed with a gun. It was committed with dynamite in 1927 in Bath, Mich.
In the coming weeks, lots of people and organizations will claim to have a solution to random violence, although, sadly, I don╒t think anyone really does.