Sunday, April 03, 2005


In the aftermath of another school shooting, I am once again wondering why we allow guns in the hands of those who don't need them. Look closely - that word is "need". A gun should be an instrument of "need" only. I'm not suggesting we take them from our military or from our police officers while on duty - generally speaking those people are trained and only use them as a last line of defense. The rest of the guns - those are just a hazard and danger to all of us.

Let me stop some of you before you come back with the same tired excuses for gun ownership.

"It's just for hunting" One, hunting for 99.99% of us, isn't a necessity for survival. Two, if hunting were truly safe and responsibly done, we wouldn't have 200+ deaths a year from hunting rifles. Three, who is out there hunting with handguns and semi-automatic weapons that the N.R.A. is so intent on protecting our rights to own?

"It's to keep me safe from the 'bad' people who will invade my home with their own weapons." If this were true, then why are there so many accidental deaths in homes by people. Almost 800 people in the U.S. die every year from unintentional firearm deaths. That's unacceptable. And news flash, people - they aren't keeping you safe either. Almost 30,000 people in the U.S. die from violent firearm attacks. Your handgun under the bed or shotgun in the garage isn't keeping you safe - your fight for the right to own that gun is also putting one tucked into the belt of every desperate person walking around thinking your home might be the one they want to break into tonight.

And let's dismiss the myth that people are being responsible with their guns, too. In the U.S. one-third of all homes with children also have guns and almost half of those guns are kept unsecured. And that's using a definition of "unsecured" that only means "not locked away". Who knows what the number goes to before you actually have decently responsible gun owners who are locking the guns away from the bullets and having their locations and the locations of the keys kept secret from their kids.

It wasn't happening in Littleton. It wasn't happening in Red Lake. It wasn't happening in Cold Spring, Minnesota or Santee, California or in Lake Worth, Florida or in Mount Morris Township, Michigan or in Deming, New Mexico (all places in the U.S. that also had school shootings by minors in the time between Columbine and Red Lake). Most of us don't remember or never heard of those places, but you can darn well be certain no one in those towns has forgotten. Maybe that's what it will take - someone actually being killed in your own home town.

Don't get me wrong - the guns alone aren't the problem. Let's cut short the "Guns don't kill people; people kill people" crap before it starts. No one is blaming the guns exclusively. The teen shooters at Columbine and Red Lake both left enough bread crumbs and had enough cries for help that there were lots of ways they could and should have been caught before those tragedies. But that doesn't change that one of them would have been taking the guns out of their hands - and there is no reason they should have ever had access to them in the first place. Let's limit the guns to being in the hands of only those who truly "need" them.