Bob Reid of Niceville says a major factor in the irresponsible use of firearms today is the lack of training among boys and girls.

The issue of guns in America has, unfortunately, been wrapped into recent hysteria about "mass shootings" and so-called "assault weapons."

Far too many of us have apparently forgotten why the Second Amendment was considered so important. It does not give Americans a right to bear arms. It merely acknowledges this is a God-given right every American is born with, codifying it as law of the land and protecting it from governmental abuse.

Why did our nation's founders consider the right to bear arms second only to the right of free speech? It was to ensure against governmental tyranny. Keeping the government under control of the people, rather than the other way around. And it's because so many citizens are armed that the more repressive elements of government are held in check today.

The fact is that our citizens do have guns. And there's no way many of those guns will ever be voluntarily relinquished. Effective "gun control" is dead on arrival, so forget it.

What is most problematic today is the failure to teach this reality to new generations of Americans.

When I was a kid, dads routinely taught us how to shoot and take care of guns. Today that appears to be an "outmoded" element of family tradition, and the fact that so many kids today grow up without a father figure in the home only adds to the problem. The failure to ensure all citizens (boys and girls) understand the basics of responsible firearms use is a major factor in the irresponsible use of guns today. Instead of decrying the guy who wants to own an AR-15, society should be making sure he knows what it can do and how to properly use it.

If this crucial element of childhood education is not being taught at home, it must be taught in our schools. The importance of the right to have guns should be a required element of modern Civics education, with hands-on training in proper gun handling and respect starting at an early age.

So far as I can determine, none of the individuals who carried out these recent mass shootings had proper weapons training.

Bob Reid, Niceville