Editor's introduction: After a particularly upsetting murder in a Montana town where murders are not at all common, a female reader wrote to the local paper, the Helena Independent Record, saying that only law enforcement officers should have handguns. Her view is not all uncommon throughout the country, and if we think about it we can understand how someone with no knowledge whatsoever of shooting or shooters yet who is constantly exposed to the violence reported on the government-sponsored news networks would come to this conclusion. She spoke out. It may seem ridiculous to you or I, but it is simply ignorant, and ignorance is stamped out with education. Forum member and professional writer Allan Tarvid also wrote the same paper with a wonderful reply on behalf of gun owners and, I think, sensible and educated people everywhere.
The Firearms Forum presents both the letter from the woman regarding the Helena murder which sparked her letter and Allan's reply. Allan hopes you can use some of his ideas in similar letters to newspapers in your towns to combat the rampant ignorance prevalent among the general public in regard to the role of handguns in America today. I have edited out the real name of the woman in the interests of her privacy rights and replaced it with a generic "Jane Smith." Her letter appears first. --Mark Freburg
CULTURE OF VIOLENCE
There is an aura of disbelief around the horrible murder and injuries that shook Helena last week. Indeed there can be no explanation for such a terrible crime.
Yet why should Helena be immune to senseless violent crimes like those that have become all too common in our society? Our culture is enthralled with violence, and especially with guns. Violence is vastly popular in our world of entertainment. Movies, games, television, music and books all rely on it, some of it unspeakably brutal, for sales. It is so deeply engrained (sic) that many of us have become numb to its effect and how it has shaped generations in this country. A consequence of the disconnect from the reality of violence and its repercussions is the proliferation of hand guns and their easy access. Hand guns are weapons whose sole purpose is to kill people. The only people who should rightly own them are law enforcement officers. Without sane gun control , I’m afraid we must be prepared for our community, and so many others , to continue to be torn apart by hideous, random shootings.
And now Allan's reply:
Ms. Jane Smith calls for “sane gun control” and writes in the June 10 edition of Readers Alley that, “A consequence of the disconnect from reality of violence and its repercussions is the proliferation of hand guns and their easy access. Hand guns are weapons whose sole purpose is to kill people. ”
If we back up far enough to get a broader view of the real world, we are going to see tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of recreational shooters who disagree with Ms. Smith. Men, women and (oh, yes) well-balanced and carefully supervised youngsters all enjoy shooting handguns in family cowboy shooting matches, IDPA matches, USPSA matches, GSSF matches, Scholastic Steel matches and NRA Bullseye matches - just to name a few of the events taking place weekly or monthly all across the country. Add the countless folks who enjoy informal plinking with handguns and the many shooters dedicated enough to hunt with them and you end up with quite a number of people who fail to see any logic behind this kind of short-sighted, blame-the-tool-not-the-person rhetoric. Yet it continues to be parroted by followers of groups who apparently believe you can reduce crime by disarming the intended victims of violent criminals and the random victims of the mentally unbalanced.
Ms Smith’s comment that only law enforcement officers should rightly own hand guns flies in the face of this country’s constitution and heritage, not to mention reality in general. A rapidly growing number of men and women across the nation are realizing that the police can’t be everywhere and people are on their own until officers arrive. Not willing to settle for simply waiting around to be outlined with chalk, this group is taking responsibility for its own immediate safety by acquiring handguns and the training to use them effectively, responsibly and legally. Anti-gun groups wail and gnash their teeth as publicly as possible, warning that everywhere concealed carry is allowed Dodge City shoot-outs will break out. Such behavior has simply never happened and studies continue to show that violent crimes against persons tend to decrease in areas where criminals are likely to face armed resistance but remain at the nation’s highest levels in areas with the most restrictive gun laws. Responsible handgun ownership is simply not the problem.
If found guilty, the disturbed young man who allegedly tried to murder three other young men is walking evidence that a small percentage of his generation does indeed have a disconnect with reality but recognizing that is hardly grounds for disconnecting with reality ourselves. We don't blame cars for drunk driving, planes for hijackings, legal medicines for drug addiction, sleeping pills for suicides, or even hammers for sore thumbs. I’ll be at the head of the line calling for “sane gun control” to ban the first handgun capable of aiming itself at someone and pulling its own trigger. Until then I’d prefer to see our limited time, effort and money spent more productively on pinpointing and fixing the social issues that actually cause these tragedies. (June, 2009)