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Editorial: Help make the change

Last week, an editorial appeared in this space that addressed hunting, and its place in the greater realm of outdoor enjoyment. The purpose was to build off of a story we ran regarding adverse hunter-hiker interactions, and point out this can be an emotional issue that is best approached with a hearty dose of empathy, good data and above all else, an open mind.

Just a few days later, we all went to bed and woke up in a much different world.

We all know what happened. A young man for reasons that are still not understood, might never be fully understood, walked into a Connecticut elementary school with a rifle and committed a crime that even in the year 2012 — the bloodiest year on modern record for mass shootings in this country — is simply incomprehensible.

In the days that followed, it became increasingly apparent this tragedy shook the nation to its very core in ways that a litany of other senseless disasters known in collective memory only by the towns and cities they occurred in, could not. It is inevitable in following weeks there will be much discussion regarding the role of guns in our country, and what must be changed to better protect all our citizens.

We might have woken up to a different world on Saturday, Dec. 15, but we don’t think our approach to addressing it should be any different than how we might decide how hunters and hikers can get along: with a hearty dose of empathy, good data and an open mind. And we think that analysis demands change.

What has been discovered in the days after the Newtown tragedy is gunman Adam Lanza perpetrated his crime using almost exclusively a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle. It’s a .223-caliber weapon equipped with a pistol-style grip, which makes it easy to control recoil when firing rounds in quick succession, something that’s quite possible when the rifle is fitted with a standard 30-round or extended 40-round magazine sold by the manufacturer. It fires a bullet similar to the 5.56 NATO round our troops use in combat. It even includes an attachment rail featured on military weapons so different sights and accessories can be changed in and out.

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