Updated: March 14, 2013 6:33AM
Aunt of shooting victim: We must keep automatic guns from dangerous folks
I have been reading with interest the many Speak Outs and letters to the editor about gun control. I would guess none of those expressing their opinions has had to endure the loss of a loved one, killed by a “crazed” gunman.
In August, in College Station, Texas, my 51-year-old nephew, Chris Northcliffe, was shot and killed by such a man with several weapons, one with a scope and one an automatic (or semiautomatic). Chris just happened to be in the wrong place that day when this man killed a constable who came to his door on an eviction issue. Chris just happened by, and he killed him also.
You probably did not even know of Chris’ murder, since the movie theater shooting in Colorado — when many were killed — was a few weeks before it, and there were only two dead in this shooting, plus the killer, who was later killed in a shootout with the police. However, Chris’ death has devastated his family and friends, much as it has the families and friends in all the other mass shootings — and those not so “mass.”
Sure, there are mentally ill people who should not have access to guns. But is it realistic that we could ever keep them out of the hands of every mentally ill person? Any person who is mentally ill and lives in a home with guns could potentially have access to them without the worry of a background check. Any gun can kill, but what civilian needs an “automatic” weapon? In the mass shootings that have occurred (all by males), not near as many people would have been killed if “automatic” weapons were not involved.
As to the idea that we can ever make schools, theaters, malls or anywhere “safe” from one of these mass killings (or even the one where only Chris and the constable were killed), it is just fantasy. The man at Sandy Hook just shot his way into the school through a locked door. How could anyone in the school have gotten to a weapon fast enough to have stopped him? She/he would have been dead on the way to getting it.
If I had my way, no civilian would own a gun. Of course, that is unrealistic. But, please, let us not allow “automatic” weapons at least! We want no more gentle, kind, caring people like Chris killed needlessly.
Jeanne Northcliffe Hebeisen
Editor’s note: To clarify, the weapon used in the Connecticut school shootings was a semiautomatic rifle, which fires one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. Private ownership of fully automatic weapons — those which fire continuously with one squeeze of the trigger — is severely restricted under federal law and civilians generally are not allowed to own those weapons.