Below is my response to an editorial in our local paper about guns and finding common ground. The link to the editorial follows before my reply. My original reply had to be edited because of length. http://www.kpcnews.com/opinions/our_view/kpcnews/article_1da8c493-e16c-5729-a3c7-b8e2e868fd5b.html
The full length reply is below.
Letter to the Editor:
Your attempt at finding “Common Ground” in the December 23rd “Our View” is commendable, though the ground you claim to be common to both is always given by one side. Compromise seems to always mean yielding fundamental rights to an increasingly intrusive government. I have only limited experience with the mental health issues you address, so I will confine my comments to the points you made about firearms.
You state that gun ownership will never be banned, yet banning a particular type of firearm is in fact a ban! Restricting a subset of the population from ownership is also a ban. Both have been done in the past. Your comforting promise is shallow.
You believe that it is better to prevent gun violence than resist the perpetrators. Well intentioned, but a fantasy. It is a false construct that under even minimal scrutiny fails the test of practicality. If you believe what you wrote, I suggest you leave your keys in your car and your door unlocked. We have laws and programs against theft; and according to your theory, theft is thus prevented. If on the contrary, there are still evil people, thieves and worse, then perhaps you should lock your home. Firearms are used millions of times annually to defend life. A gun is a tool of last resort, but many believe their life is worth defending. If you do not, you are free to make that choice. If you are not willing, when capable, of defending yourself, I suggest you refrain from calling the police or anyone for help. Do not presume they think more highly of your life than you do. By the way, please remember to remind that police officer who is confronted by a violent individual armed with a knife, a ball bat or even a large rock, that preventing violence is better than doing battle.
I agree that gun owners should be trained. I am an instructor; how have you helped? I volunteer my time; what do you do? Have you taken a course in firearm safety or hunter education? Are you aware that each year tens of thousands of young people are trained in firearms safety by scouting programs, church groups, and 4-H?
You also state that violent criminals should not have access to guns. That is already the law. As a matter of fact, your access to firearms can be lost by committing non-violent crime. Instant checks are already done in the manner you suggest. These checks cannot, however, detect people who might commit crime or who might become mentally unstable.
In your effort to claim common ground, you throw the National Rifle Association under the bus. The NRA is the largest firearms safety organization in the world. It trains private citizens and Law Enforcement professionals. The NRA has pioneered crime prevention programs and worked to preserve hunting rights in all 50 states. It has influence in Washington because it is a grass-roots organization with millions of members and affiliate organizations in every state. The Brady Campaign, on the other hand, might have 50,000 members and gets most of its money from foundations. It is the Brady organization that has a disproportionate influence because it does not represent voters, but elitist social engineers.
The “common ground” that most Americans stand on is personal responsibility. Over the past several years, responsible Americans have legally purchased hundreds of thousands of firearms and used them responsibly for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. You seem to imply these law-abiding folks are somehow guilty by association, connected to deranged murderers by their tools. You use inflammatory language like “carnage in our schools” and compare alcohol use with a fundamental right granted by Natural Law and guaranteed by our Constitution. You suggest things that already exist to convince your readers that not enough is being done. You fail to mention the 20,000 or so gun laws already on the books in the United States. You forgot that every firearm manufacturer must serialize his product and that it is tracked from the factory door to the end user. You failed to mention that the target of choice for these murderers, be it a theater or a school, is a place where armed resistance is prohibited. You forgot that almost all of these cowardly killers stop when confronted with armed resistance. You can do better. If you truly seek common ground, come over here and stand by me; I’ve moved far enough already.