Private Gun Ownership: Divided We Stand
Don Kates is absolutely right in his opinion article "Making a Case for Gun Ownership: Israeli-US Contrasts" (Dec. 16). Guns in the hands of responsible citizens pose no threat to public safety; it's guns in the hands of criminals that are the problem. If we trust police to carry guns, why not trust responsible citizens to do the same? States like Tennessee that have done so have experienced greater public safety - rather than the "bloodbath" that antigun forces wrongly predicted.
Glenn H. Reynolds
Finally, a responsibly written article on gun ownership. Too often, I read emotionally charged and unsubstantiated pleas by people who have no interest in, or experience with, guns or gun laws. They promote abolition of private ownership without regard to anything but near-sighted, simplistic goals.
To amputate our Second Amendment freedom would be to admit that our society can't protect itself from itself and would rather discard the issue than deal with it.
As an American who has lived for more than 20 years in Israel and recently spent three years in New York, I think the opinion article comparing American and Israeli gun legislation misses the point. The core issue is not "how to use guns" - any child, unfortunately, can learn to do so - but "when to use guns." This is the point of the extensive training that armies and police forces undergo. The "contrasting examples" mentioned in the article are irrelevant:
* There is not the same threat of terrorism in the US that there is in Israel.
* Even in Israel, so-called "responsible citizens" have caused horrifying massacres (the Popper and Goldstein massacres in 1990 and 1994 are proof of that).
* Few terrorists have ever been stopped by armed civilians; they are stopped by the army and police.
* It's privately and legally purchased American guns that supply drug gangs, so-called "militias," and other groups, all of whom now outgun the authorities.
* The Second Amendment calls for a "well organized militia;" if Americans want to play with guns, they should join the National Guard.
The incidents Kates refers to in his essay, while good for making headlines, form a small percentage of the overall murder rate, and therefore have no statistical bearing. Furthermore, he completely ignores many countries - like most of the nations of Western Europe - where guns are hard to obtain, and where the murder rate is miniscule compared with the US. He also ignores the fact that the US has some of the most liberal gun ownership policies in the developed world, while having one of the highest murder rates.
My intention here is not to argue for gun control, but simply to reveal the sloppy logic in the essay. This sort of writing reinforces the current trend away from serious discourse and toward meaningless and inflammatory rhetoric.
I recall that it's the Monitor's editorial policy to publish thoughts that might point to possible solutions to a problem. Unfortunately, Mr. Kates's essay seems to head in the opposite direction.
Bruce G. Hooke
In these days of nearly-universal media-bashing of law-abiding citizens who own guns, it's gratifying to those of us who believe in private ownership to see an opinion article supporting private possession - and particularly in a newspaper of unquestioned moral standards, and antiviolence position.
I'm glad my wife and I read the Monitor, not necessarily because you published an opinion article I agree with, but because of your even-handedness and thoughtful approach.
Earl C. Klaubert
Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org