I read a lot of letters to the editor. I read a handful each and every day, all about gun rights and gun control. These letters are routinely folks who are holding debates about the Second Amendment in the old-school manner in which those debates used to be had over a distance, something we all get to do a lot quicker and a lot easier than back then.
Usually, I don’t bother with them. After all, someone else will be along to reply.
However, sometimes someone makes an argument that all but begs me to make a response. Such an example popped up at the L.A. Times this sometime yesterday, titled “Letters to the Editor: Gun rights supporters still can’t explain how firearms make us safer.”
The letter writer claims that “we can sleep reasonably securely at night, knowing that most criminals are too afraid to break into an occupied home.” This is a weak defense. Also, the statement that “a firearm also enhances safety for the disabled, weak, old or sick” is inane and cannot be equated with firing a weapon in a public setting.
It’s not easy to accurately fire a handgun, much less in the dark, when awakened and confused by an intruder. Also, doing so may injure another occupant in the house.
The writer claims to have been an Army MP who served in South Korea.
Good for him.
That doesn’t, however, give him any real understanding of firearms, gun laws, personal defense, or pretty much any topic currently up for discussion. Especially if there was a great deal of time between his service and now.
First, let’s take the first part of his second paragraph:
It’s not easy to accurately fire a handgun, much less in the dark, when awakened and confused by an intruder.
Really? First, someone waking up in the middle of the night is hit with a burst of adrenaline that will wake them right up. If anything, that will cause any difficulty, not the fact that they were awakened. Confusion goes out the window as well.
You see, this is called the “fight or flight” response. It’s a biological process that floods our body with adrenaline when we’re faced with a threat. It wakes us up and also seems to heighten our senses. We don’t wake up confused and befuddled, stumbling around in the dark and unsure of what we’re doing. We wake up alert.
This is an evolutionary response that kept humanity alive for centuries when the height of technology was the stone spear and fire. You think a gun is hard to fire accurately while half-awake, try fighting off a smilodon with a pointy stick in such a state.
If that’s how we responded, humanity would have died out long ago.
What we have here is projection of his own experiences and assuming that everyone else is just as confused as he’s been. Perhaps his wife sent him to investigate a noise she said she heard so he, being the dutiful husband, staggered around half befuddled to see if anyone was there. That’s because his mind didn’t process any kind of a threat, so it didn’t respond to a threat. Simple as that.
Yet when there is a threat, things change.
In other words, this argument is based on complete and total male bovine excrement.
Now, let’s look at the second part:
Also, doing so may injure another occupant in the house.
This is not wrong. It’s not. This is something that everyone needs to think about and consider. Damn near the last thing I want to do is shoot at a burglar and hit my daughter, for instance.
However, you know what is the last thing I want? For my wife and daughter to be brutally raped and murdered because I was too much of an idiot to take the precaution of not just owning a gun but also not consider what fields of fire may put my family at risk.
Then again, our letter writer seems to think we’ll be too confused to consider such things.
Meanwhile, countless people who have lived this nightmare can confirm just how little this letter writer actually knows about the topic.
To address the headline itself as to just how guns make us safer would require an entire book’s worth of writing. However, since he doesn’t understand the topic anyway, there’s not really much point delving into it. I hope that by pointing out just how little he understands, though, you can see why opinions like his need to be dismissed.
If only the L.A. Times knew to do that.