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Letter to the Editor: Violent crime is a people problem, not a gun problem

As the effort got underway to turn the tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard into one more politically-charged anti-gun drama, some facts surfaced, much to the dismay of the media and those who would use the killings as another attempt at “reasonable gun laws.”

With a figure of over 20,000 gun laws already on the books, when is enough, enough? (That figure is often touted, and dates back to 1965 – before the sweeping and prolific passage of laws made after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.) Would one or two or 100 more laws have done anything to thwart this crime? Hardly! You see, criminals like it that law abiding citizens obey the law – it makes their ‘job’ so much easier!

Another fact that gets lost in the warm fuzzies of ‘get rid of the guns and all will be well’ is that, 1.5 to 2.5 million times a year, a firearm is used lawfully to protect lives and property. That is not to say a firearm is discharged, but that the mere presence deters a crime. It appears criminals don’t like to be threatened with return fire; they want a victim, and guns in the hands of law abiding citizens tends to level the playing field a bit. Go figure. 

In 1966, the city of Orlando responded to a rash of sexual assaults on women by offering firearms training to women. The very next year the rate of sexual assaults dropped by up to 90 percent. Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens is a good thing. A level playing field of self-defense has proven to be a deterrent. This is not so hard to see unless it does not serve one’s political agenda.

While we are talking level playing field, how did a gun-toting ‘bad guy,’ mentally disturbed or not, manage to have a firearm in the Gun Free Zone of Washington, D.C.? The law abiding citizens of the Navy Yard obeyed the law, not arming themselves. So who was not obeying the law? Could that have been a criminal? The Navy shipyard shooter heard voices and was actively being treated, but was still given clearance to be on the base – sounds like a people problem to me.

Imagine if there had been an armed ‘good guy’ to return fire on the ‘bad guy’; the outcome would have been much different. Much like the Columbine massacre, the free fire spray at the movie theatre in Colorado, and any number of other shootings where one firearm, used defensively in the hands of a law abiding citizen, would have made all the difference in the world to a lot of souls who instead met their maker at the hands of evildoers.

How this is so hard to understand is beyond all logic. Chicago, home of Barack Obama and home of the most restrictive gun laws, saw homicides jump 15 percent in a single year, topping the charts at 513 in 2012. Since the U.S. began the War on Terror, Chicago has seen more homicides than the country has lost soldiers in the war. This is a city where it is almost impossible to own a firearm? How can this be? A people problem, perhaps? Or, more specifically, a criminal problem?

We all know that hammers, baseball bats, screwdrivers, etc. are handy weapons used in murders. Shall we outlaw or demonize those inanimate objects, as well?

In a different time, life mattered, good acts were rewarded and bad acts were paid for with consequences. That has been lost on all the touchy-feely ‘don’t judge or hold them accountable.’ We have forgotten that bad people do exist and inanimate objects are not to blame. All the gun laws, all the smoke and mirrors, cannot disguise what the problem is. The old saying, “First time a victim, after that a volunteer” is more true today than ever. 

Let’s stop being victims and volunteers to our misguided notions. The drive to disarm America is focused on one group of people, the law abiding citizens, instead of placing the blame where it belongs. Criminals will always be criminals, and accountability for actions need to be met swiftly and justly. 

Wake up, America! The Second Amendment is most obviously needed, and never more than when it is under siege.

Sue Nelson

Perham, MN