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Automatic Weapons Endanger Us All

Editor, The Herald:

Over the years there have been both written and oral discussions aplenty on the pros and cons of gun ownership in this nation-both in the corridors of government at every level, as well as by members of the public who espouse different political persuasions. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a practical solution to the problem. Any suggestion to curtail the right of citizens to own firearms per se would be an exercise in futility and need not be pursued. The Second Amendment has rightfully legitimized that privilege to all citizens who are eligible.

The early pioneers, as well as those who came after them for hundreds of years, who explored and settled in this vast and bountiful land, often lived in isolated communities at the fringes of society without the benefit of police protection against crime, whether they are petty or grievous. It naturally followed that they therefore had to protect themselves without organized law enforcement-which they did quite well. If they were not successful in keeping the peace, by and large they would have descended into chaos and anarchy, which in turn would have prevented them from making this land into a highly prosperous, progressive and generous nation that became the envy of the world. However, it is important to realize that the type of weapons the pioneers used to guard themselves were not anywhere near as sophisticated as the automatic ones used today. That naturally meant that no single individual could commit mass killings the way we have seen happening all too often these days.

A study conducted by the US Department of Justice as reported in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice found that the use of automatic guns in an incident considerably increases the number of casualties.

Many have argued that more people are killed in traffic accidents, as well as from all kinds of illness and diseases including suicide. Unfortunately, such arguments are not relevant because one source of death does not negate another source, and reducing death from any source is a positive factor not to be belittled. About 500 children are killed by gun accidents every year in this country. The question is-how do you accidently discharge a kitchen knife, a machete or a baseball bat? It is often said that guns do not kill humans but other humans do. That is true because there is a human behind whatever implement that is used to commit the crime. However, we do not have a monopoly on mentally deranged persons-every country on earth has them. In 2009 our homicide rate stood at 5 per 100,000, while that of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and United Kingdom, ranged from 0.5 to 1.8 per 100,000. Statistics produced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the year 2009 show that the total number of homicides committed in the US that year was 5.5 per 100,000. It also shows that 3.7 of the 5.5 per 100,000 homicides were committed with the use of firearms. In other words, fully 67% of all homicides were committed with guns. Even so it is a given that we will never give up our right to bear arms. Having said that, it is important to also say that unless we deny easy access to automatic weapons we will continue to see the type of carnage that occurred in Columbine, CO, Blacksburg, VA, Fort Hood, Texas, in the Colorado theatre, and the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, as well as countless others.

Mat Mathews

Farmville