Readers have submitted responses to a recent editorial on gun control that ran in all four editions of Reporter Newspapers. Here is what they had to say:
Dan, I read your editorial in the January 11 thru 24th issue of the Sandy Springs Reporter.
Please allow me a rebuttal on some points you made.
First of all, going shooting once, and having a friend let you take a few shots with his revolver, hardly qualifies you to know much about guns in general, assault weapons in particular, how common they are, and what lawful and useful purposes they have for us. It’s nice that you went shooting and enjoyed it. But you don’t know guns like I know guns.
I’m an active gun hobbyist. I have a small collection of a dozen or so guns. I’ve competed in target shooting matches and won trophies in some categories. I have owned and used machine guns. And small pocket pistols. And sniper rifles. And deer hunting rifles. And combat shotguns. And break-open sporting shotguns. I have a Georgia weapons carry license, and I’ve had it for over 20 years. Before that, I had a New York State unrestricted handgun carry permit. When I would travel internationally in pistol shooting competitions, I had a Canadian handgun transportation permit, too.
Let me tell you five things about guns that I know from personal experience and that of the many friends and family members I know who are gun owners.
1– You wrote that you fear somebody shooting you or some other innocent person because they wrongly thought you were about to shoot them. I’ve never heard of that happening in Georgia, ever, among people licensed to carry weapons. Obviously there are incident where two hoodlums get into an argument at a nightclub and get to fighting in the parking lot and one pulls a gun and kills the other, but these are NEVER gun permit holders, and often the one who got shot really did threaten and /or assault the other one. That kind of scenario is not something you’d envision happening to you, is it?
I have carried a gun on my person, loaded and within easy reach, almost every day for the last 20+ years. Naturally I’ve had some people cut me off in traffic. I’ve had arguments with people. Never once did I involve my firearm in any of those confrontations. The one time I did grab my gun during a confrontation with a car thief that I observed stealing a car, just touching it and disengaging the safety strap from the top of the holster made him stop advancing on me with that pry-bar in his hand. Strangely, the first time I asked him to stop, when my weapon was fully concealed, he didn’t. Yes, this was in Sandy Springs, off Roswell Rd, about 15 years ago. After unsnapping my gun’s holster and repeating my request, he obeyed. I guess it’s true that you get more cooperation with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word!
By the way, I’ve carried my gun in public places daily for the last 20 years. I know a dozen other people who have done the same, right here in the Atlanta area and northern suburbs. Where’s the “O.K. Corral” effect that you wrote about? I haven’t seen it. My gun doesn’t provoke me to challenge people to duels in the streets, or the shopping malls, or the restaurants that I visit.
2– You said that guns kill people from innocent victims getting caught in the crossfire. Well, when was the last time you heard of this happening when a law-abiding citizen shoots in self-defense against a criminal? Never. It’s a red herring. Something that could, in theory, happen, but happens so rarely as to not even be worth bringing into the debate. Sure, thugs who spray bullets into the homes of their rival gang members do kill innocent babies. But those aren’t really “stray” bullets. They were fired with the intent to kill, and they did. They were fired by criminals and urban terrorists. Don’t lump us, the law-abiding gun owners of Sandy Springs and north Georgia, into that category. WE don’t do drive-by shootings, nor fire into crowds of teenagers dancing at block parties or house parties.
When a law-abiding citizen shoots at a violent criminal, sometimes the criminal gets hit. Sometimes the bullets miss and the criminal is unharmed. But there’s not any real problem with stray bullets fired by law-abiding citizens nailing innocent people around town.
3– You said that guns only give an illusion of control. “Guns do not solve problems” you said. Well, I beg to differ. Why do you think police officers and private security officers guarding banks and armored trucks carry guns? Because their guns prevent a lot of bad people from attempting a robbery. And when a desperate or incredibly bold robber DOES attempt a robbery, they are less likely to be successful, and more likely to end up dead or in prison. The answer to an evil person with a gun is very often a good person with a gun, ready to use it, and skilled in using it. If guns don’t solve problems then let’s have bobbies walking the beat armed only with radios and batons (or no weapons at all?). Shouldn’t we all just live by the Golden Rule and not beat others with clubs unless we’d want to be beaten with a club, too?).
4– You said the Second Amendment doesn’t outweigh your fears of being the victim of gun crime. You claim the “right” to be free from this fear. Well, I’m no constitutional law scholar, I am an attorney, trained in the reading and application of both the constitution and statutory laws passed by legislative bodies. I’m pretty sure that in our society, where the rule of law trumps the whims of man, and where the U.S. constitution and its Bill of Rights is the highest law of the land, the 2nd Amendment certainly does trump these so-called rights that you can’t find anywhere in the constitution. Freedom carries risks, and if you’re going to have a free society where liberty is respected, you have to accept that some small percentage of your fellow citizens will abuse their freedom and cause trouble through how they exercise their rights. If you want a Big Brother government to treat our citizens like patients in a giant high-security mental hospital, and allow us to have only blunt-tipped kiddie scissors and non-toxic white glue that we can squirt in our eyes with no ill effect, you’ll have to amend our constitution considerably. The America that I live in still lets its people use grown-up scissors, and if we super-glue our co-worker to the toilet seat at the office because we stupidly thought that would be a fun prank, well, the answer is not to ban super glue. The answer is to punish the responsible individuals ONLY, and leave the rest of us alone.
5– Your article was against guns in general, but clearly it was inspired by the current “assault weapons” debate over the latest public massacre of innocents by a lunatic with an illegally-possessed (stolen) gun. Please allow me to make a few short points about so-called assault weapons. Again, this comes from years of personal experience with dozens of these kinds of guns, and others, and hundreds of thousands of rounds fired with my trigger finger alone.
(A) Semi-automatic assault weapons are not uncommon freakish oddballs of the gun world, appealing only to gun collectors and psychopaths. These kinds of guns were first invented and marketed to government agencies and the civilian market more than 100 years ago, and over the last 35 years or so they have become very popular among ordinary Americans. In the last 10 years the AR family of rifles (which are similar to the military’s M16 except for their slower rate of fire) have made quite a dent in the hunting rifle market, with more and more people using these semi-automatic rifles with pistol-grip stocks and recoil-reducing springs in their actions as replacements for the traditional bolt-action rifle with its conventionally-shaped stock. These semi-auto guns with a military heritage are generally lighter, easier to carry, more comfortable to hold and aim, and recoil less when fired, compared to other kinds of guns. They also use ammunition which is more commonly available at lower prices compared to other caliber guns, since all those military ammo plants and defense contractors have over-runs and batches of ammo that the military rejects. That ammo ends up on sale at local gun stores or via internet sales (after you scan or mail-in your photo I.D. required to purchase).
(B) Semi-automatic guns with 20 or 30 round magazines ARE deadlier than most other kinds of guns Americans also own in large numbers. That’s true. But these guns are not so deadly that they can’t be used responsibly and legally to repel or incapacitate attackers. Most cops, like most armed citizens, need to fire 5 or 6 shots at one adversary before that person is either hit or flees. At the target range, when taking careful aim, only 1 shot is needed to hit a target. That’s not how it works in a deadly force encounter with a violent felon. Now if statistically it often takes 5 shots to drop or chase away one bad guy, how many bullets should your gun hold if you want to be ready for an attack by 5 gang members? Five buddies who have formed a home invasion robbing crew? I think having 20-25 rounds is perfectly reasonable, based on realistic scenarios and the techniques that criminals actually are using in our society today. Now I won’t say that 75-round drum magazines are necessary. They’re just fun! They’re cool toys to play with at the range. And they may be useful in some wild hypothetical scenario about “the end of the world as we know it” or a zombie invasion or urban warfare on a large scale. But the 15 and 20 and 25 and 30-round magazines are useful today for real-life applications when you have a gun for self-defense of your home or business.
(If you think having a large magazine means you must intend to murder a bunch of innocent people, instead of fighting a group of evil-doers, ask some cop how many rounds his pistol holds (14-17 for most models). Then ask him how many extra magazines he wears on his belt, in addition to the one already in the gun (usually 2 more). If a cop carries a semi-auto gun with 50 rounds available at his fingertips because that cop might face a group of armed robbers at the local liquor store, why shouldn’t the liquor store owner be able to keep such a gun and that many rounds in his magazines, too? It’s the same group of robbers each person will face– why does the private citizen / store owner have to limit his weapon to a 6-shot revolver and thus increase his odds of losing the fight and getting killed?)
(C) Most public massacre mass-shooting events that did involve “assault weapons” did not actually DEPEND ON the gun(s) in question being that type in order to cause a big body count. When a homicidal maniac has corralled a bunch of victims in a confined space and shot a few of them down with the first few gunshots (which could come from nearly any type of gun), and gotten the rest to surrender and submit, he could rack up a shockingly-high victim count with a knife, or bucket of gasoline, or spray bottle of poison, or a common ordinary gun with low ammo capacity. Most of the time, the difference between having a Tec-9 with a 30-round magazine and having two model 1911 pistols each holding 8 rounds is a moot point– the innocent victims will die either way. I think the Newtown, CT school massacre was this type. The make and model of firearm and magazine was irrelevant. Ditto for the D.C. area sniper team. Sure, they used a (stolen) AR-15 rifle with a 30-round magazine. But they only used it to fire one shot per attack. An average of one attack every other day. Who cares if the gun is “capable” of spraying 30 rounds into a shopping mall in 15 seconds? They didn’t use it like that, and they could have used any kind of hunting rifle to achieve the same terrible results as they actually did with the assault weapon.
Thank you for hearing me out.
If you would consider printing a shorter version of this as a rebuttal to your piece, please feel free to edit it, or tell me how many words it should be and I’ll go over it to cut it down to the right size.
Mr. Dan Whisenhunt’s commentary on gun control is summed up in one quote…. “A right to life without FEELING the need to arm myself everywhere I go deserves equal consideration”. In other words, Mr. Whisenhunt feels scared because Americans can own firearms and he really wants to feel safe. In his mind (& other squeamish progressives and weak-willed liberals), his emotions trump my right to one of the basic tenets of natural law, the right to self defense. But what is even worse, is that it is a selective and highly irrational emotion on his part. If his concern for his health and well-being were accurately placed, he would demand that cars be pulled from the road and banned forever, as far more deaths, injuries and overall misery is caused by auto accidents. His chances of becoming one of those traffic statistics is far greater than ever even seeing a private citizen with a gun in public, much less ever being hit by a stray or intentional bullet. If he used a little more logic and a great deal less emotion, he might just cry himself to sleep every night worrying about 2 tons of steel whizzing by his pretty little head hundreds (if not thousands) of times a day. But he doesn’t, because he FEELS ok about it. The comparatively high likelihood of death or dismemberment by driving (which is not a protected constitutional right) is fine, but lawful gun ownership by lawful citizens (which just happens to be the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights) is cause for hysteria, hand-wringing and bed wetting. It just doesn’t ring true….. because it isn’t. This is a political dogma, not a safety issue, plain and simple. Ill-informed anti-gun advocates want us to ignore the vast experience of history about oppressive governments and tyrannical rulers. Instead, people like this want to pretend that an all-powerful government is going to take care of their every need by day, coddle them asleep at night and benevolently nurture them from cradle to grave. But human nature hasn’t changed in thousands of years of recorded history and the cliché is still true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The 2nd Amendment was written to give armed citizens the power to not only defend themselves, but to keep a power hungry government from oppressing them and to physically and forcibly resist that entity if necessary. And it is true that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Ask the Poles, Jews & eastern Europeans during WWII, ask the Russians during Stalin’s purges, ask the Chinese during Moa’s rule, ask Cambodians about Pol Pot, ask the black man during the repressive Jim Crow era and ask every other disarmed people throughout history. The disastrous results were always the same when a government succeeded in removing firearms from the hands of the ordinary citizen.
So please, I am unmoved by Mr. Whisenhunt’s need to FEEL good. I’d rather live with him being irrationally uncomfortable than for all of us losing our freedoms and liberties because we were too weak to defend them.
Price R. Potter