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bullet  Guns: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Updates! Another Story and More Letters

The way some people reacted, you'd think this publication was called Guns Digest. Truth is, we haven't done a real "gun story" since the bit on John Lott way back in July 1998! To recap what led to this page, you need to see the relevant stories from the 20 April 2003 issue:

An Eye For An Eye

A woman who pulled up to a stop sign in Warren, Mich., was surprised when a man opened her door, pretended to have a gun, and ordered her to give him money. She didn't pretend she had a gun: she pulled out her licensed 9mm pistol, pointed it at his face, and told him "If you're going to shoot me then do it, 'cause I'm definitely going to kill you." The man ran, and the unnamed 40-year-old woman was unharmed. (Macomb Daily) ..."Rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. ...A simple weapon -- so long as there is no answer to it -- gives claws to the weak." --George Orwell (1903-1950), British author

Choose Your Weapon II

Margaret Summey, 64, was relaxing at home in Duncan, S.C., when Timothy Doyle Huitt, 43, allegedly broke into her home. "I went straight and got the .357 Magnum," Summey says. She shot the intruder, and police ruled the shooting justified. Doyle was found collapsed in the street with a gunshot wound in his leg. "I would have used a shotgun," Summey said afterward, "but I had just had new countertops done and I didn't want to tear up the kitchen." (Spartanburg Herald-Journal) ...Coming soon from Formica for discriminating housewives: Kevlar countertops.

Home Run

Pharmacist Martin Francom of Bremerton, Wash., was confronted by an armed man demanding narcotics. Seeing "a moment of opportunity when he looked away," Francom grabbed a baseball bat from behind the counter and whacked the intruder in the head. "I refused to be a victim," Francom says. The man started shooting and Francom dropped the bat, so his daughter, Candice, 25, took up the cause. "I wanted to protect my Dad. I just picked up the bat and started hitting the guy over and over and over, probably 30 times," she said. "I thought about hitting him in the head, but if I caused some brain damage and he died, I didn't want that on me. I didn't want to be charged with anything." (Seattle Times) ...She was, however, charged with an error: the guy obviously already had brain damage.

I expected some comments.

OK, OK! Truth be told, I actually expected outrage and ranting about how I dared to report a story or two that could be construed as telling of the "positive" uses of firearms.

I was, of course, not disappointed.

The first letter, though, was fairly interesting:

  • "I came to the gun-control issue fairly late in life, having had no experience with firearms. When I did get around to thinking about it, I weighed the evidence from the two sides of the debate. I discovered that the 'evidence' from the anti-gun crowd was flawed, and that their arguments were based on emotion, not fact. When Florida legalized [carrying concealed weapons], they predicted that it would become known as 'the Gunshine State' due to the 'rivers of blood' from motorists quick- drawing on each other. When those predictions were shown to be utterly false, I naively expected the anti-gunners to concede that fact. Of course, they didn't, and have continued to use junk science and fear to make their case. I'm not buying. No doubt you'll [receive] many reactions from the anti-gun crowd, and I wonder whether you'll get any arguments that are not based on fear, ignorance, and junk science." --Paul, New Jersey

Just a Coincidence!
It was a quirk of timing -- Really. I only run stories when I hear about them, and yet another "gun story" came up in the 25 May 2003 issue:

Left Bank

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out the armed bank robbery conviction of Deshon Rene Odom, even though Odom admits he robbed a California bank and was indeed armed with a revolver at the time. The court found that Odom never brandished the gun, or even mentioned it, though bank employees saw it when he pulled up his jacket to stuff the bag of stolen money in his clothes. It has thus ordered the trial court to re-sentence Odom on the lesser charge of unarmed bank robbery. The same appeals court, which Reuters notes is "famously liberal," recently ruled that individuals have no Constitutional right to own firearms. (Reuters) ...Thus encoding into case law the "famously conservative" argument, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

When I ran the stories in the free edition, I included Paul's letter (he's a Premium subscriber, so he got his letter to me before the stories appeared in the free edition) as a sort of "challenge" to readers to think about their response and write something particularly thoughtful, especially if they disagreed.

I was, of course, disappointed. Here is a sample of the letters I got:

  • "You've crossed the line from amusing to propagandist, and so I'm going to unsubscribe." --David, Illinois

  • "I've enjoyed your fairly level-headed and straight view of the world until you got on to the NRA podium and took up the good old American 'I've got a gun therefore I'm right' attitude. I'm unsubscribing." --John, U.K.

  • "You asshole, take a look at the murder stats. I actually feel sorry for people like you. People who don't recognize that their need for guns is their own fear and inadequacy." --Duane, Ontario, Canada

So much for thoughtful debate. For the record regarding my own "need for guns" because of my "fear and inadequacy", I haven't carried a gun since I was a sworn sheriff's deputy, and that lack has caused me no negative emotions whatever. No, the emotion here is quite obviously Duane's. And funny how I never even mentioned the NRA, or took any sort of position on the topic. Yet here I am, some sort of "propagandist"? I'm surprised I didn't hear from the "anti-baseball bat" crowd.

Yet most people didn't bother to write: they voted with their feet. Hundreds of people unsubscribed from the free distribution, which I just can't quite understand. They enjoy the stories in issue after issue, but when one issue has two or three stories that hit a hot button for them, even though the stories take no position whatever on the topic, they can't stand the thought of illumination on the issue and have to run and hide their eyes from the possibility that someday there might be another such story? That's awfully sad; they can't just enjoy the stories they like and skip the ones they don't. Who loses? They do. And so does society, when its voters can't risk the chance of witnessing a brief debate on what even they think is a very important topic. Oh well -- I tried, even though I knew what would happen.

When I talk about driving debate, I'm not speaking of this page. I of course mean that people should talk to their friends, families and co-workers so you all can more fully understand such important issues. Which is to say, I work to provoke the debate, not to host or moderate it, though obviously this page will give many an idea of where they might start. Naturally, when I published the letters and comments above in True I got plenty of comment -- a huge influx of mail. I cannot possibly publish all of it, but a representative sample is included below. So please resist the urge to send more unless it hits a truly relevant point that is missed below. Thanks.

  • "Randy, I think you've missed the point. Gun control is based on lies and falsehoods, as your correspondent 'Paul from New Jersey' writes. Gun control advocates live by their fantasies, and cannot bear the thought of living without them. They are, literally, 'un-sane'; they cannot face the reality shown by the facts. When you present truths that contradict their (call it what it is) religion -- a belief system unsupported by evidence. When you present facts that contradict their religious beliefs, they must abandon you as a heretic. Like it or not, to them, you fall into the 'pro-gun' label. You're with them or against them. [And] if you reject their fantasies, you're against them." --Ken, California

Ken, that has to be one of the most insightful letters I've received on any topic in quite some time. "Religious faith" is called that for a reason: if there were evidence, the "faithful" wouldn't need faith, since they'd have proof (that's not a dig; that's simply the meaning of those words). It never occurred to me to look at this issue in this way. What a brilliant observation.

  • "I applaud these women, I live in Australia, where we do not have the right to arm ourselves or even use a baseball bat to protect ourselves in the case of a home invasion. Applause to these brave women, and I wish the laws of my country were strengthened at least to give us the right to use force." --Angela, Victoria, Australia

  • "I must have missed something. Regarding one reader's (objective?) account of anti-gun arguments being 'fear-based', what part of the pro-gun rhetoric is not based on fear? Is gun ownership itself not capitulation to fear? Sure, justify all you want that it is a sport, blah,blah, blah. It is satisfying because it makes one feel powerful, and quells deeply held fears." --Leslie, New York

Yes, you did miss something. When someone is breaking into your home, do you call the police because of simple fear, or is it because you want protection from the intruder? Sneering about base emotions isn't thoughtful debate but, frankly, I wouldn't want a fearful person to own a gun; they are much more likely to shoot a family member coming home late than an intruder.

"Why do they think gun prohibition would be any more successful than drug prohibition?" --Jim, North Carolina
  • "Something that neither the pro or anti-gunners ever seem to note is that in states with relaxed concealed-carry laws, only about 2% of those eligible to apply for a permit do so. Of those who do receive a permit to carry, many do not carry or only seldom do. Additionally, it can be expensive and time consuming to qualify for a permit. Here in Michigan the training course must include:
    • Safe storage, use and handling of a pistol including, but not limited to, safe storage, use and handling to protect a child
    • Ammunition knowledge, and the fundamentals of pistol shooting
    • Pistol shooting positions
    • Firearms and the law, including civil liability issues
    • Avoiding criminal attack and controlling a violent confrontation
    • All laws that apply to carrying a concealed pistol in this state
    • At least 8 hours instruction, including 3 hours of firing range time.

    "So, even in states with relaxed laws, the probability that the person you just passed on the street is carrying is pretty low." --Steve, Michigan

Anyone who has a gun that doesn't have a basic understanding of the law and full instruction in how to use that gun, which must include plenty of live fire practice, is a fool. The "right" to own it is not enough; rights imply responsibility, and one of them is to know how to handle the gun safely. The government requires car drivers demonstrate they have a basic knowledge of traffic laws and the ability to drive. It is reasonable that it have parallel requirements for anyone who wants to use a firearm. Like a car, a gun can be useful or dangerous, and training is a must in either case -- which is a perspective I gained when I was trained in using a gun in a police academy. (I already knew how to drive by then -- also thanks to formal, expert training!)

  • "[The stories] reminded of the situation here on Brazil. Brazil has had very restrictive gun laws from at least 60 or 70 years back; citizens were allowed to take out licenses to carry pistols up to .38 Special caliber, all guns of any kind had to be registered, etc. A few years back, owing to high crime rates, the government started disarming the citizens. I was, for over 25 years, a member of my state rifle and pistol shooting teams, and used to have a pistol carry permit, but now I can't get one anymore because 'civilians are not psychologically prepared to responsibly carry guns and must leave this to police'. A well orchestrated media campaign turned owning weapons, into most people's minds, into something alike being a prospective serial killer. Well, a year or so ago I was assaulted at knife point while waiting at a stop sign with my car windows open and my left arm resting on the window sill. Two young men accosted me unexpectedly and immobilized my left arm while touching it with a rusty, dirty but very sharp looking shiv (prision-made knife). I thought fast and realized that, while I probably could fight it out, albeit immobilized by my seat belt, if they wounded me (which would be very probable) the infection risk from the dirty shiv would turn out to be more expensive in time and money lost than my wallet contents. I could not advance the car because I wasn't first on line at the stop sign. So I gave them the paper money I had on me and they went away.

    "I drove away shaking with pent-up rage, incensed at the tought that a few years back they wouldn't think of attempting something so crude for fear I or a nearby motorist or passerby could be armed. Now this kind of holdup (with guns, knives, even shards of window glass) is very, very common on our cities. Meanwhile, even as I write this drug lords' soldiers fight it out with police on our major cities using assault rifles, machine guns, .50 caliber Bartlett sniper rifles and the like, ambush and destroy police troop carriers, bust criminals out of prisions by blasting down walls and overpowering prision guards, the Rio de Janeiro state governor is calling for the federal government to allow army troops to patrol the streets, police officers' corruption and association with organized crime charges surface daily, and the population lives in what is virtually a state of siege. --Wilson, Brazil

  • "You said that you ran the gun stories to 'drive debate'. OK, then why did you include the third story, with the baseball bat?" --Betty, Kansas

To further the debate. All three stories dealt with women who were faced with immediate danger from criminals. If we could magically make all guns disappear, would that mean all crime victims would suddenly have to lie down and take it from any hoodlum that broke in on them? Nope. Human nature is to defend oneself; a gun is a tool to that end. If that tool is not available, people can -- and will -- choose another tool. Guns aren't the embodiment of evil; they are indeed in a very real sense a tool. One which can be misused, to be sure. But then, so can a baseball bat.

  • "I am troubled by the implications: Is one completely responsible for one's own safety and protection? Are not law enforcement and criminal justice a function of civilized society? I don't know if I want to live in a place where I must 'pack' in order to insure the safety of myself and my family. What has happened to the United States that so many reasonable people feel this now necessary (and it seems to be borne out by the statistics)?" --Rhondda, Hong Kong

I got similar questions from several foreign readers. What has happened to the U.S.? Nothing. We have never had a right to police protection. Not in the times of the "wild west", and definitely not now. Anyone living in the U.S. -- and likely many other countries -- that does not fully understand this basic fact is in for a shock. There is absolutely no legal requirement for the police to protect you. Even if you can reach them on the phone and make it clear that you will be tortured to death if someone doesn't come help soon, you (or your survivors) have no right to sue for their failure to do so. So while the criminal justice system is indeed a "function of civilized society", the ultimate responsibility for your safety is yours. Once you understand this, it becomes much harder to blame civilians for wanting some of the same tools the police have.

  • "In the early 1990s I decided to discuss the Second Amendment with a second cousin who happens to be a Constitutional Law professor. I believed in strict licensing and registration. He believed there was no serious legal impediment to government banning. After quite a bit of discussion and individual research on both our parts, we both now believe that the U.S. Constitution protects a pre-existing right; that all legislation restricting this right should be subject to strict scrutiny -- the same standard that applies to restrictions on freedom of speech. We aren't alone in reaching that conclusion. That the Second Amendment protects an individual right is now considered established by most Constitutional Law scholars, even the ones that support gun control: Laurence Tribe, Akhil Amar, Sanford Levinson, Alan Dershowitz, etc., though some might argue against strict scrutiny.

    "I read article after article on the social utility aspect and found almost all of the 'gun control benefits society/lack of gun control hurts society' [studies] to be poorly designed and/or poorly conducted research. As an example, none of the 'gun in the house' studies controlled for whether the gun used in the killing was actually a gun in the house or if it was a gun brought in by a killer. Such abysmal research is rife in the medical literature, where almost all of the researchers refuse to acknowledge that criminologists have been studying the relationship between firearms and crime for decades using more scientific methods. This willful ignorance coupled with the shoddy research suggest that those researchers are less interested in accuracy and more interested in advocacy. In other words, using the standards of criminologists, medical researchers can't prove what they are saying, but they'll say it again and again in the hopes someone will believe.

    "I have been called 'paranoid' for wanting to carry a concealed handgun and supporting the right of other citizens to carry a concealed handgun. But who is being paranoid? I trust my fellow citizens. I believe that they should be assumed responsible until proven otherwise, a natural analogue of innocent until proven guilty. I am ashamed that so many others do not trust their fellow citizens. Those that do not trust are the ones that are paranoid. And what is saddest is that they are scared of the wrong people. They are scared of those who are most willing to help them." --John, location not given, but he ended his message with an interesting quote:

    "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." --Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi, An Autobiography)

  • "You present the issue rationally and invite people to think about it, and that's what makes these types mad. 'Make people think they are thinking, and they will love you for it. Make them really think, and they will hate you for it.' I've heard that attributed both to Plato and to Aristotle." --Phil, North Carolina

  • Keep on with the controversial issues. I don't care how much the topic pisses me off (hell, I'm not pro- or con-gun control, but I was really upset at you for a little while.) I am never going to unsubscribe. I've disagreed on a couple of things with you in the past, but man, nobody, and I mean no one is so vocal about common sense in my experience. You provide very wise and eye-opening publications. I subscribe also to the NY Times daily summary email, and I have learned more from you about recognizing liberal/conservative bias (in any media I read) than from any other single individual in my life. I'd really like to just shake your hand one day." Scott, Georgia

You realize, of course, where the concept of handshaking comes from? It demonstrates that you are not holding a weapon!

  • "I remember reading a story just this weekend from Iraq. They were quoting an Iranian Cleric trying to impose Iran-style government in Iraq. In it the quote said (paraphrasing here, unfortunately): 'We must remove the Great Satan, who wants to corrupt our people by bringing in satellite TV.' In other words, they are afraid of letting in information that does not follow their already preconceived concepts, much like those who unsubscribed after reading something they didn't agree with." --Burt, California

  • "I challenge myself to read and research those stories that do push my hot buttons (I like to be open-minded and not just think of myself as such). Either I will change my mind based on the facts you have called to my attention, or my already-existing opinion will become even better anchored in my mind. Religious subjects are always 'hot' issues. If I feel I'm being challenged on a religious subject and run, it means I don't think my 'god' can withstand the criticism. I should, instead, consider the fact that maybe it's my religious beliefs that are faulty, while God remains sovereign. People are always quicker to sacrifice their god or ideal to criticism rather than to scrutinize their way of thinking about their god or ideal, placing themselves above their own god or ideal! You changed my mind about guns, Randy, and I'm looking forward to reading your next challenge! Keep it up, and thank you very much for enlightening me!" --Liz, Germany

  • "It would seem that people whose position is rooted in emotion act rashly and with total disregard for facts. I find this very telling regarding their opinions on a number of subjects, but I will use the gun issue to exemplify their position: 'Because I react emotionally and rashly, I do not trust myself with a firearm. Because you are human, you must be the same as I. You also want a firearm. This indicates that you are blind to your faults. Therefore, I must oppose you having a firearm.' This could be repeated on a large number of issues including environmental zealotry, affirmative action, women's rights, gay rights, ad nauseum." --Craig, Minnesota

  • "There are no guns in our house. Maybe this is junk science, but I believe a significant number of gun owners end up victimized by their own guns, or worse. Last week a 14-year-old unlocked his father's gun safe and took three guns to school. He shot the principal and then himself (both died). My son is a student teacher at that school and is still recovering from the shock. I'm not anti-gun. I'm a Boy Scout leader and all our scouts learn how to handle a .22 safely. But I see no harm in making gun owners register their firearms and demonstrate proficiency in using them safely." --John, Pennsylvania

I'm sorry your son was affected by such violence. As I noted long ago on the original "guns page", a thoughtful rejection of guns in a home is certainly a valid position. While it is often rational to own a gun, it's similarly a rational decision to not have one. By the way: the fact that you teach boys how to safely shoot makes you a terrible, awful, violent person in many people's eyes.

  • "As you said, your articles are designed to bring up debate. Unfortunately, in today's society, it seems that some people are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that they refuse to even consider what might be an opposing viewpoint, as much on the left as on the right. For a good look at how anti-gunners manipulate facts when needed see 'Bowling For Columbine: Documentary or Fiction?'" --Dan, Illinois

  • "Our nation has become a group of one-issue voters, and that is more dangerous than any other enemy. You come along, step on the toes of someone's one issue and they walk. It is a sad commentary on our freedom that people won't stay and fight for what they believe -- they stomp off in a self-righteous huff and in a fog of their own beliefs, leaving their discriminative powers un-honed and on the shelf. Are we becoming a nation of one-believers, only able to hear the mullah-of-choice for our own particular cause? Is the marketplace of ideas closed? If freedom is what we choose, freedom is not putting one's head in the sand or filling it with only what we want to hear. Freedom is the ability to express opinion and wrestle with ideas in the face of opposing opinion for the sake of the overall betterment of our society. Freedom does not mean walking out of the room; rather it means debating the issues. Freedom does not mean being polite so we don't offend anyone; rather it means treating the other as a full human, giving respect to his/her place to disagree, and seeing the other as worthy of one's time and intelligence. And in fact, if you want to defeat an idea, you had best understand what drives it. You can't do that wearing blinders and ear plugs." --Roger, Vermont

  • "When we have one of the highest murder rates in the world, one has to be concerned. Would that the solution were simple! I think the extremes on both sides are absurd. Although the entertainment industry claims no responsibility, I really have a hard time believing that the saturation of extreme violence in television, films and games has no effect on thinking and behavior. Who would have thought that a game called Grand Theft Auto would be considered mainstream?" --Jim, Michigan

As "no-gun" cities such as Washington D.C. and Chicago clearly demonstrate, the elimination of guns does not reduce the murder rate. In addition to illegal guns, people substitute other weapons such as knives, clubs and cars. It's a lot easier to say "guns are to blame" than to face up to the actual fact: that there's something wrong with our society which provokes violence as a "solution". And you're right to point toward the entertainment industry. I love the way the media claims "entertainment has no effect on what people do" -- yet they sell advertising, which clearly does help sell products. And they see no irony in the discrepancy!

  • "I read This is True for the amusing stories and the 'thought food' included with each issue. Gun control is just another thought-provoking issue best debated in a sane and sensible manner, if the anti-gunners will let us. And yes, I did four tours of duty in Vietnam that allows these anti-gunners to have their say. I have a sign in my front window, 'Dysfunctional Veteran Inside. Leave me Alone' and it works. And if it doesn't, and someone is foolish enought to try and break in, then I have a Ruger .357 Magnum to persuade them to leave. --John, Colorado

I suggested to John that the sign would be more scary if he modified it to read: "Dysfunctional Vietnam Veteran Inside. Leave me Alone." He replied: "I guess that's why This is True is so successful, such creative thinking. I think I'll change it. Thanks." :-)

  • "It truly saddens me when people react so violently and rashly to an independant voice. I've been suffering a similar problem here at school. I go to a very liberal school and, while this is very good in many ways, it does mean that many people are unused to needing to defend their own arguments and so get very angry whenever I ask questions that poke holes in their positions. This has caused me to come up with a life philosophy: 'Act like you're right, assume that you're wrong.' That way, you can be open to people poking holes in your arguments, but at the same time, they'd better be some damn big holes before you change your mind. Anyhow, as soon as I get home and get my first paycheck, I plan on upgrading my subscription, because man, This is True is absolutely hilarious." --Ross, Indiana

  • "I've always been encouraged to look at things and form my own opinion. When you brought up the subject of guns, I had my usual emotional gut reaction of 'Guns are evil!' (I've had a few family members killed by guns, and I've got a phobia about them). However, because the article on your web site was neutral on the subject, I felt it my duty as an intelligent person to learn about the other side. Now, I'm not so sure that my original view point was the correct one. I've still got my phobia about guns and I'm still not fond of them, but I'm no longer so certain that they're evil and should be banned. It's become something I'll have to do some more research on before I can actually form an opinion. Thank you for presenting me with the unbiased material I finally needed to get me to think about this controversial issue. Gut emotional reactions have no place in forming an opinion about important issues like this. Logical, intelligent thought is what should be employed instead." --Megan, Pennsylvania

A phobia, by definition, is an irrational fear. That you've had any family members, let alone a "few", killed by gunshot is tragic, and certainly justifies at least some fear. That said, I would like to argue that your emotion is misplaced: you said that they were "killed by guns", but I think they were killed by criminals -- people. If someone purposefully ran over a family member in a car, would you say they were "killed by a car"? Or would you say they were run down by a murderer?

  • "You claim that True's 'first-best' function is 'to provide entertainment'. Yet farther down you say 'Oh well -- I tried, even though I knew what would happen.' I offer that if it was really an entertainment organ, avoiding having subscribers 'voting with their feet' would be a high priority. In my view, while True is entertaining, that aspect is a thin disguise for its real function: education. The motivation? '...society loses when its voters can't risk the chance of witnessing a brief debate on an important topic.' Which is why I stick around -- interesting exchanges, as well as examples of 'death by stupidity'. And why I am upgrading to Premium (finally) -- your work needs to be supported." --Doug, Oregon

And that support is greatly appreciated. You quoted the "first-best" function (entertainment), but didn't quote what I identified as True's "second-best" function: to provoke thought and debate. Those two functions are sometimes in opposition, and I do compromise from time to time in favor of the first function. For instance, I could run many, many more zero tolerance stories than I do, and indeed the more I run the more they demonstrate the need for public debate. But if True were "all ZT, all the time" it would quickly become much less entertaining. It's a difficult balance to maintain, but when I see stories that are entertaining and will provoke debate, such as the three on the top of this page, how can I resist, even when I know it will provoke an exodus?

While I have not expressed a position on gun control, it should be fairly obvious that I don't have the emotional response to the issue that many do. Thanks in part to professional training back in my deputy sheriff days, I'm not afraid of guns. (I was a search and rescue deputy, not assigned to law enforcement, but since we searched in very rural areas with many illegal marijuana farms, it was the sheriff's desire that all qualified deputies carry firearms for protection, since certainly the drug farmers were well armed!) While I don't think "just anyone" should be able to carry a gun (few would argue, for example, that paroled felons or the insane should be able to carry a gun in public), the phobic position which many "anti-gun" people take, ignoring any and all objective evidence, is obviously foolish.

So what's your position? Don't tell me, tell yourself -- after spending time looking at objective evidence. Whatever your decision, you will at least be satisfied to know you did base your opinion on fact, rather than emotion. Which is, really, your responsibility as a citizen.

It took me literally a month to get through all the letters on this topic -- so I'll repeat the request to not send more. Of the many hundreds I read after posting the above, the following were the most interesting.

  • "Do you suppose that those 'anti-gun' people ever stop and think that one of the primary reasons we enjoy the level of personal freedom in this country is directly related to the fact that the founding fathers understood that a society into which firearms are widely disbursed to its citizens will insure its own level of freedom from tyranny and opression? It may be true that some citizens die as a result of non-warfare violence; however, that number is far less than those who have died unable to defend themselves in the Soviet gulags, Pol Pot Cambodian genocide programs, North Korean and Viet Nam re-education camps, WWII German concentration camps, etc. Tell them to read their history and then complain." --Tom, Texas
  • Nick in Florida sent interesting quote along these lines. It illustrates the "fear" of many who oppose gun control -- that when you give the government an inch, they tend to take a mile:
    • When they took the Fourth Amendment,
         I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
    • When they took the Fifth Amendment,
         I was quiet because I was innocent.
    • When they took the Second Amendment,
         I was quiet because I didn't own a gun.
    • Now they've taken the First Amendment,
         and I can't say anything about it.

Nick unfortunately doesn't have attribution for the quote, but it's a takeoff on Martin Niemöller's famous World War II refrain.

  • "John in the UK ought to know better after the rise in violent crimes (including gun crimes) after England pretty much outlawed all guns. All of those complaining ought to investigate the horrible gun crime rate in many countries such as Jamaica, (the aforementioned) England, and Australia. They might also look at the gun crime rate in Switzerland, where many households are required to keep an automatic "assault" rifle because of their militia. Lastly, if those people want to ban guns, I would ask them why they think gun prohibition would be any more successful than drug prohibition." --Jim, North Carolina

  • "Ever notice that something is only 'propaganda' when one disagrees with it? --Noah, Maryland

  • "Hi Randy, I think you are missing a more salient point of the replies to you stories of women refusing to be crime victims. The replies in the 27 April issue all seem to have come from men, and the idea that a woman can defend (stand up for) herself is lost on them, and gun control is not. I think it is a matter of what is seen as important to men (guns) versus what is important to women (self defense, self reliance, and non victimhood). A woman physically standing up for herself is such a foreign concept to men that any other issue seems to be the only recognizable one. --Kathryn, Australia

I only put a very small selection in the 27 April issue: the earliest, the most "violent", and the most irrational -- the three at the very top of this page. I was not (alas) surprised they were all from men. My idea was not to try to be wide-ranging in my selection of letters, but rather to spark interest in this very page. As you can see above, there were a lot of more thoughtful responses, both from men and women. But you do have a point: I agree that some of the opposition to guns is that they are an effective tool to level the field between men and women. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing depends, I'm sure, on your point of view!

  • "If a few people unsubscribe because you pushed a few of their buttons, they weren't intelligent enough to truly understand your publication. I don't always agree with what you mention in your newsletter, or your perspective on the issue, and a few times you have even pissed me off. However, if you never managed to piss me off and make me think about some of the issues facing mankind on a daily basis, I'd think you were being negligent as a member of the media at large. I look forward to the next time you really tick me off! You cannot provoke thought and discussion if you only publish what everyone is going to agree with. In fact, if would be a rather tame and boring publication if that were the case." --Stephen, Ontario, Canada

  • "Duane from Ontario is right: it is fear and inadequacy that causes people to want guns for defence. Its the people's fear of crime and the justice system's inadequacy in dealing with crime that causes people to feel they need to provide for their own defence. --David, Alabama

  • "When I was younger I was taught the Scientific Method: a procedure of fact gathering. As a whole society sought truth. When they found it, they embraced it. But here, two stories of individuals successfully protecting themselves make a political statement. Is the tool they used really so important? What if, instead of handguns, they used tazers? Is pushing electricity through someone less heinous than lead? Is how a projectile is accelerated important? Either I lack understanding or some are just looking to be offended. Is there some societal benefit to being hurt by someone else's opinion? Why are some so anxious to attain this? Also, your recounting of the reactions to the self defense stories is quite interesting on two fronts. You state your hopes that True will provoke thought, but then seem surprised when you do get a rise out of some." --Dean, Iowa

A "rise" in the sense of angry foot-stomping and a refusal to even consider that there might be actual evidence on the other side of a major controversial issue isn't "thought".

  • "Come on now! Now I love This is True -- and don't personally have any problem with any of the stories -- but simple editorial decisions demonstrate one's political leanings." --Susan, Montana

A very simplistic view -- I also recently ran a story about a kid hiring a hooker to visit him in the hospital. Does that "demonstrate" I think this is a great idea for the youth of this country? Of course not. When I do take a position on an issue, it's typically quite obvious, such as zero tolerance. Just reporting on a story hardly indicates a pro or con position on my part.

  • "First off, I am Anti-gun. I wanted to make that clear from the beginning. That being said, I actually very carefully read your entire page on the issue. I am sad that people would unsubscribe from your wonderful publications because they disagree with what they perceive to be your 'agenda'. I didn't take it as a pro-gun slant by any means. Not all anit-gun people are crazy wackos who feel how they do for no logical reason. And I don't want to argue with you over gun owner rights. I do, however, feel obligated to point out that the U.S. Constitution doe NOT give anyone the right to have a gun. The second amendment, to quote in its ENTIRETY, simply says: '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.' This says nothing about guns. It says ARMS. So when the pro-gun lobby says 'We have to allow people to carry concealed guns because the constitution garuntees us that right', I get very angry. Why should they be allowed to carry the weapon of their choice, but I am not allowed to carry the weapon of my choice, be it a knife, baton, blow-gun or Ninja Stars? If they are so concerned about the Constitution, why do they only ever talk about one kind of weapon? Clearly, this is not a constitutional issue, but a gun issue. I don't know if you are aware of this, but about 5 years ago, Missouri had a state-wide vote on the conceal-and-carry law. It failed. I voted against it. I was constantly being asked to suppost the 'concealed weapons' issue, even though it explicitly only allowed for a gun. If it would have allowed me to carry any weapon (ok, within reason), I probably would have voted for it. Thank you for your wonderful publications. I don't care what stories you put in, weather i agree with them or not. They make me think, and that is what matters." --Fred, Missouri

As I've said all along, what truly matters isn't what opinion you have, but rather whether you came to that opinion through logical thought. You're "anti-gun"? Cool -- at least you truly thought about the issue. Some will call you wrong, some will call you right, but at least you have the ability to defend your position without resorting to "Just because!" Good for you.

  • "The real culprit behind the nonsense positions that are emotively driven is not the entertainment industry, or junk science, or lobbying for a position. Bottom line, the culprit is our educational system. In my experience, our high schools and colleges are designed to indoctrinate, emote, and protest, rather than how to actually think through an issue. I have been researching Classical education lately, as an alternative for my son (only 16 months old now!). I know one man who is classically educated, and whether I agree with him on issues or not, he knows how to think through them and arrive at a justifiable conclusion. When I read works by people like the Federalist authors, and Jonathan Edwards, etc. I notice that they are thinking through an issue in a way that I am just not equipped to do. I can read it, maybe understand it, but with my K-12 public school education, I don't have the capacity to think the original thoughts." --Russell, Idaho

A scary concept indeed, when you think about it....

- - -

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3 Comments on This Entry

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Posted by David, North Carolina on March 23, 2009:

I doubt that I would ever carry a concealed weapon, I do have a shotgun loaded for home protection and I would use it if I had to. Most people that have an irrational fear of guns don't realize the implications of a society in which there is no alternative other than calling on a governmental agency to provide protection for a citizen. I live out in the country far away from any law enforcement and there might come a time when it is necessary to protect family and property.

Posted by Ben, South Carolina on March 23, 2009:

Absolutely loved the stories; I stumbled this and was excited to read both the article and responses. My favorite example to throw at the anti-gun crowd is the case of Kennesaw GA, where all households are required to own a gun, with one exception: If it is against the beliefs of a particular household they don't have to own one. People felt the same about that as they did about Florida, they thought blood would fill the streets as innocent children shot each other on accident, and angry neighbors blew holes in each others houses over borrowed yard equipment, and then a miraculous thing happened. The violent crime rate in Kennesaw dropped to lowest rate in the entire U.S., not just GA.

My second favorite of the examples is to remind anti-gun people that almost all of the mass shootings in past years, starting with Columbine and moving to Virginia Tech, happened in "gun free" zones. Places where even people who have gotten concealed carry permits aren't allowed to carry. It is a federal crime to carry in a public high school, or a college. It was also against the law to carry in the mall that the high school student shot up with the AK-47. Criminals aren't going to places like Kennesaw looking to shoot at armed people, they are looking at the easy targets, where they know no one will be shooting back.

Posted by Duke, Arkansas on May 20, 2009:

Too many people seem unwilling to accept the reality here: guns don't kill people, people kill people. I know--not an original saying--but why don't we concentrate on this more? Don't outlaw things, outlaw inappropriate actions. What's that you say? There are already laws against inappropriate actions? And they aren't working? Let's pass more laws! That'll do it!

As Jon Lovitz used to say on Saturday Night Live: "Yeah, that's the ticket!"

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