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Of Belly Putters and Assault Rifles

Recently, golf’s two governing bodies, the USGA and the Scotland-based R&A, proposed a rule change that would prohibit the use of anchored—or belly—putters. Their rationale is that by anchoring the butt of the club against part of the body, a player gains more control and therefore an unfair advantage.

It’s hard to imagine that the advantage could be so great since relatively few people use these putters. Tiger Woods doesn’t like them and you hardly ever see them employed by casual players. The golfing community seems to be coalescing around the idea that there’s something wrong about these ungainly putters, and that they shouldn’t be part of the game.

I wonder why a similar (although much stronger) distaste for assault rifles hasn’t taken hold among civilians who use guns for work or sport. Nancy Lanza, the first victim in the Newtown massacre, took up target shooting as a hobby about three years ago, according to reports. But she didn’t pursue her new interest with the right equipment—the long-barreled, small-caliber rifles and handguns we see in the Olympics. Instead, she chose Glock and Sig Sauer handguns of the kind favored by law enforcement for their “stopping power,” and a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, which is similar to the military’s M-16. The Bushmaster features a lug for attaching a bayonet and a barrel that can be outfitted with a grenade launcher.

Why do civilian hobbyists choose to shoot targets with high-powered assault rifles specifically designed to kill scores of people on the field of battle? Why don’t their fellow target shooters see how harmful this practice can be to public safety and the reputation of their sport? In other words, why aren’t target shooters packing AF-15’s laughed off the range by their peers and derided as commando wannabes with adolescent Rambo fetishes?

Golf may be persnickety about its rules, but all sports and pastimes have behavioral norms. Backpackers learn to leave the woods in a more pristine state than when they entered them. Anglers eat their catch or throw it back. Can’t we expect gun enthusiasts to carefully select the right tool for the job and to leave combat weapons to soldiers?

News reports suggest that Nancy Lanza may have thought war could come at any moment, and that possibility may have been reason enough for her to buy an assault rifle. But is it reason enough for her fellow gun owners? If I am any guide, unarmed citizens increasingly look at those who purchase or trade in assault rifles, expanding bullets and high-capacity magazines as aiding and abetting mass murder.

Possession of some armaments should be reserved for the military. Protecting you and yours isn’t adequate justification for an AR-15, no matter the law. There are plenty of other firearms suitable for robust self-defense.

I don’t wish to make pariahs of gun owners, but hope they will marginalize the most extreme members of their group, much as golfers are showing belly putters the door.

Walter Verfenstein lives in Port Washington.

 

News

Thousands of residents in South Farmingdale, Bethpage and Massapequa could face a rising water bill unless a group responsible for environmental pollution clean up its act.

On Sept. 2, Sen. Charles Schumer and the South Farmingdale Water District called on the U.S. Navy and the Department of Justice to prevent significant water bill increases for residents by chipping in for the construction a water treatment facility to filter and purify the ground water impacted by the Bethpage plume.

A local resident is taking the reins of the Nassau BOCES Board.

Plainview’s Eric B. Schultz was elected president of the Nassau BOCES Board during its organization meeting on July 10. He is the sixth person to serve as board president in the agency’s 47-year history. Rounding out the Board’s leadership team are Vice President Susan Bergtraum of East Williston UFSD, District Clerk Deborah Coates of East Meadow UFSD and Vice District Clerk Michael Weinick of Merrick UFSD.


Calendar

Wold War I Anniversary

Monday, Sept. 15

Game Changers

Thursday, Sept. 11

Running Club

Tuesday, Sept. 16



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