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If you have ever worked an election, you have taken the Kentucky Oath of Office. We are asked to swear that we have not participated in any aspect of dueling. Many of us suppress laughter or chuckle under our breath at what we think is an outlandish affirmation.

Kentucky historian Jim Klotter says the dueling reference was added to the oath in the 1800s because dueling was part of the way of life for Kentuckians at that time. It is reported that even our renowned Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, fought in two duels.

State Rep. Darryl Owens is trying to have the dueling reference removed because he thinks it adds a distraction to an otherwise dignified ceremony. Former Gov. Julian Carroll says: “It is a part of the history of this great commonwealth, and I don’t think that we ought to make any changes with respect to the reflection of that history,”

Of course this points to the Second Amendment that is in the headlines almost every day. Many believe that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to insure we have access to guns for hunting. The amendment means what it says. The early Americans remembered only too well the way British Gen. Howe tried to seize our militia’s gun powder and weapons, thus taking away the colonists’ means of resistance. In the minds of the founding fathers, armed people remain free and safe people.

In a Feb. 1 editorial, the New Era called into question Trigg County Sheriff Ray Burnam’s statement about deputizing Trigg County citizens who possessed firearms, but his thoughts are somewhat similar to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. He aired a public service announcement warning his constituents that having firearms is fundamental for their safety, saying, “Consider taking a certified safety course in the handling of fire arms to protect yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.” He told residents there were three things that they could do when facing a perpetrator: beg for mercy, hide under the bed or fight back.

A recent home invasion in Georgia is evidence that having access to guns and the ability to handle them is necessary for our protection. A man rang the doorbell of a home in Loganville, Ga. The lady of the house, Melinda Herman, did not answer the door because she did not want to deal with a salesman. The “gentleman” began furiously pressing the bell. Sensing danger Melinda phoned her husband. She gathered up her 9-year-old twins and a loaded .38 revolver and retreated to an upstairs closet. Her husband called 911.

The intruder next used a crow bar to open the door. He broke into the house and began to ransack it. He came upon the upstairs closet where the three were hiding and opened the door.

Melinda fired six shots and five hit the intruder in the face and neck. She ran out of bullets and ordered the man to lie still. The intruder somehow got up, tried to drive away but crashed his car into a wooded area and was arrested.  

Her husband, Donnie, said, “My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as a responsible parent and gun owner.” He went on to say that, just two weeks prior, to the incident he took his wife shooting so she would be familiar with the two family guns if she ever needed to use one. Prior to this she had never fired a gun.

Radio host Lars Larson points out if there had been more than one intruder, she and the children would have been in real danger because she did not have more bullets in her firearm. Many are now calling to limit the number of bullets a gun can hold. Larson went on to say: “This president wants to take away people’s rights to own the appropriate tool to repel an invader or invaders into their houses.”

Dr. Frederick Bieber, a professor of pathology and forensic expert at Harvard Medical School claims, “There are probably tens of thousands of cases a year where a lawful possession of a firearm would prevent a crime from occurring or continuing. That doesn’t mean the firearm has to be discharged, but just the lawful possession of it can be enough to have this effect.”

Let’s not hide our heads in the sand. Guns are not the pariah that the media portray them to be. Even though we don’t use them for dueling anymore, having guns is part of our Kentucky heritage.  We must be able to have access to the gun of our choosing so we can keep ourselves safe. The current limit-the-bullet strategy of the “ban the gun crowd” is pure poppycock. Let’s work to keep all aspects of the Second Amendment intact.

WILLEE COOPER is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is past president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs on the first and third Friday of each month. Reach her at

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