As a lifelong hunter and gun owner, I flirted with possession of assault-style weapons.

I once had an AR-15, a AK-47 and variations but discarded them over the years because I had no practical use for any such weapons.  They weren’t good hunting rifles or reasonable weapons for self-defense.

I own a practical shotgun for hunting, handguns for defense of our home and selves and some collectible weapons accumulated over the years that are stored in a secure facility away from our home.

As a holder of a concealed-carry permit, I spend an afternoon once every quarter in a gun range in Roanoke keeping my shooting skills honed for an occasion I hope and pray never occurs.

After the latest mass shooting and multiple killings in the hands of a deranged holder of an AR-style weapon, I now support efforts to keep such weapons out of the hands of civilians.  Any such steps that can keep such tools of destruction out of the hands of madmen and criminals are welcome, I believe.

The National Rifle Association, an expansive lobbying group that abandoned any real representation of average gun owners so it could spend millions supporting a gun industry that is, in my opinion, out of control, argues against even the modest attempts of president Donald Trump to raise the age to own assault style weapons to 21.

It is, the NRA claims, a violation of constitutional rights of 18, 19 and 20 year olds.

Really?  Are the sensible laws that prohibit purchase or use of alcoholic beverages such a violation?  The NRA doesn’t say even though attempts to lower the drinking ages in the past have led to increased drinking and driving of teenagers and sharp increases in traffic accident deaths.

Some states prohibit those under 21 from purchasing or possessing a handgun but allows them to legally buy and use an assault-style weapon.  Some states have their own laws on age restrictions just as some lower the “age of consent” for teenagers who venture into sexual activities.  Is that a violation of their “constitutional rights?

I dropped my membership in the NRA years ago when they decided to endorse racist George Allen in his failed (thankfully) race for U.S. Senator from Virginia.

I applaud president Donald Trump for his statements to the governors, meeting in Washington, that cowardly members of Congress must stand up to the NRA and take steps to protect our children:

You guys, half of you are so afraid of the NR. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. And you know what? If they’re not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That’s OK.

While many owners of such weapons are law-abiding citizens who understand the safe and proper ways to use them, we also have nut jobs like the young man who too often seen strutting up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart in Christiansburg with an AR in a sling over his shoulder claiming he is there to protect all of us of “the evils of society.”

As a general rule, I avoid him by not going to Wal-Mart.

It is hard to disagree with those who feel there are too many guns in the hands of too many people in America.  The tragic shootings like the massacre in Parkland, Florida, occur far too often in what is supposed to be a “civilized” society.

The highly touted Second Amendment to the constitution has little to do with an average law-abiding citizens owning a handgun for self-defense or hunting.  It came into being as a way to allow an armed group of citizens to exist to resist a threat to our nation.  Such a group spawned the American Revolution at a time when such an amendment did not exist so one has to wonder if such an amendment is really necessary now.

In reality, getting rid of the Second Amendment is not really an option.  Repealing American amendments seldom occur. America tried that with prohibition.  Lesson learned.

A lot of room for debate exists on the issue of guns in America.  As a gun owner, I’m more than willing to debate and consider such issues.  Maybe the first step is outlawing the National Rifle Association.