To the editor:
I want to congratulate you on an excellent article on the firearms issue(s) facing the United States (editorial, Oct. 13). I have no doubt you'll be getting some mail from the extremists suggesting otherwise, but your article struck a chord with me because I am a gun owner (13 of 'em) and hunter (archery and pistol, as well as shotgun and rifle), and a former National Rifle Association member. I resigned from the NRA when it became obvious to me that they were not willing to admit that the U.S. has a gun problem. The statistics prove otherwise. As you pointed out in the article, it's really a handgun problem. I do own handguns, but I am partial to single-shot pistols (for hunting) and revolvers (for target shooting).
I believe Canada has about as many guns as the U.S. (per capita) but a much lower murder rate involving firearms. This may be attributed to that fact that they have basically made it impossible for citizens to get high-capacity handguns (whose only purpose is to kill humans) but have allowed the sale of rifles and shotguns for hunting. It seems like an excellent plan to me. The NRA would disagree, of course.
I recently read (in Field & Stream, July 2012 issue) that according to the ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), 1.2 million handguns were produced in 2000. By 2010 the number was 2.8 million. The driving force behind this increased production is the personal-defense market. While I believe in every individual's right to protect himself and his home, I don't know that this is the answer. A trend both in the military and law enforcement is for non-lethal force, which I think may be part of the solution. Personally, I think pepper spray is a good defense in 99 percent of situations the average person will find himself in. Think of how the Zimmerman case might've been different if George Zimmerman had pepper-sprayed Trayvon Martin instead of fatally shooting him.
My sister-in-law is an emergency room nurse in Colorado and assisted in two surgeries involving the shooting out there this summer. One woman had been shot in the jaw and the other in the knee. It wasn't just background news for her but real people with real blood.
One of the strangest things in firearms right now are "zombie defense loads." I'm not making this up. I don't know if people are watching too much TV ("The Walking Dead") or have active imaginations, but it seems kind of nuts to me.
I saw a letter in the Enterprise last week from a gun supporter who suggested that the UN is going to try to take our guns away from us. Please. These scare tactics don't survive the most basic scrutiny; however, most (paranoid) people choose to believe the lie.
The United States is a nation of gun enthusiasts and hunters. I am one of them. However, I'll be the first to admit that we have a handgun-murder problem that is unacceptable. I don't know if we'll be able to legislate our way out of this one, with more than 350 million guns already in the United States, but it's tough to sit by while the murders rack up and do nothing.
Again, I want to congratulate you on your fair and "middle of the road" stance concerning firearms. Too often it's all or nothing from both sides of the debate. There must be some middle ground. Compromise should not be a dirty word in this debate.