I am ready to compromise, are you? It’s hard to imagine how great America would be again if we were not divided over everything.

I’m ready to compromise over guns. And I think we should CHANGE the words in the constitution to reflect reality. Those who think it’s a holy grail may be be better served by different words that bring the document into the new age.

Take the second amendment. I would support something that says citizens have the right to bear arms. The stuff about the well regulated militia is where things get murky. If we are to use this amendment as originally intended it could be argued that the founders did not mean that everyone has the right to own a tank or a machine gun or a rocket launcher. Those things did not exist in the 1700s and as great as the founders were they could not have anticipated people printing non-traceable plastic weapons with 3-D printers in order to shoot someone in an airplane or a court. It’s not what they meant.

Here are the actual words: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

No one talks like that anymore and it could be argued that the amendment does not mean that everyone gets a gun, no matter what.

How about we change it to something like, “The right of normal people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I’d wager that normal people everywhere would warmly welcome such an adjustment.

If we changed it to something like that, then we can argue over what a normal person is instead of well regulated militias and free states.

I don’t need a gun. I don’t want a gun. I do know how to use a gun and have fired many guns in my lifetime. I’m a pretty good shot and I understand that shooting is a skill and weapons are appealing to some.

If I were king of the world I would aim for universal peace where weapons were not necessary. In the meantime I don’t want to take everyone’s gun away. That’s not realistic. But I do not want nuts and extremists owning guns under the umbrella of the constitution.

I know many gun owners. Most of them want their fellow gun owners to be responsible and legal users. Most support the idea of background checks, safety training and even a license. It’s the bad apples that are causing all the controversy.

I don’t like the idea of psychos destroying lives with weapons of war while hiding under the skirt of Lady Liberty. I don’t like the idea of non-detectable, plastic weapons taking out one of my or your family members.

I am not opposed to a good guy or gal with a gun taking out a bad guy behaving badly with a gun. If we make it a little more difficult for bad actors to own and amass weapons, ammunition and bombs, the good guys and gals will have less to worry about. Notice I said bad guy with a gun. Most gun tragedies happen at the hands of bad guys, not women. The Lake Christine Fire in Basalt is an exception as it was started by a young woman shooting illegal tracer rounds into the highly flammable forest. Stupid.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, two young people ignored the rules of the lake Christine Firing Range and decided it was okay to shoot those tracer rounds, which are like flares into the woods. There was no adult supervision at the range and we all paid the price. How much smoke did we all have to breathe? Smoke is deadly. How much money did we have to spend? How many firefighters put their lives at risk to save our community? People lost their homes and countless animals suffered a horrible death. Consequences should be considered.

Those kids were not qualified or responsible enough to own and operate that gun.

Now people are arguing about the shooting range in Basalt. Fire has been started at the shooting Range in Kremmling. We would not be talking about it if not for the bad apples. But we are talking now and people on both sides are really upset.

I support the idea of keeping a range in Basalt but only if it is an indoor range with some kind of staff on duty. Not only would the good guy in the building be able to filter out some bad guys but it would be safer for nearby residents.

I have a friend who lives a couple of miles away from the range and is constantly bombarded by the sound of guns going off. We all deserve a little peace and quiet.

Steve Skinner likes the first amendment, too. Reach him at nigel@sopris.net.