Letters to the Editor for the February 18, 2013 weekly print issue: To speak of gun ownership as a privilege that can be given up ignores history and the philosophical basis of the right to self-protection. Findley's op-ed was a voice of reason in the hyperbolic discussion on gun control.
Miami and Carmichael, Calif.
Samuel J. Findley's Jan. 28 commentary, "Why I'm giving up my guns," necessitates a response. Behind the passionate debate over gun control and armed crime lurk assumptions about the link between guns and violence. Indeed, the belief that more guns in private hands means higher rates of armed crime underlies most modern gun-control legislation.
But today Americans own some 200 million guns and have seen eight consecutive years of declining violence. The British, on the other hand, who are prohibited from carrying firearms and thus limited in their right to self-defense, have suffered a dramatic increase in rates of violent crime.
In fact, the individual's right to possess a means of self-protection is not granted by the Second Amendment or any other government edict, nor can it be taken away by government rule. It is the inherent right of the individual to protect his own life and freedom. It predates any government.
The American colonists who crafted the Second Amendment knew this well. They had recently fled a tyrannical government bent on control of the individual. When King George sent British troops to enforce his edicts upon the colonists (including disarming them so that they could not resist), the American Revolution resulted.
To focus on hunting as the main point of gun ownership – and speak of it as a privilege that can be given up – ignores history and the philosophical basis of the right to self-protection. Mr. Findley's opinion piece belittles that point and that right.
This is a quick note of appreciation (and no small admiration) for Findley's commentary.
His piece provided a voice of thoughtful reason in a somewhat hyperbolic public discussion on gun control. It was a welcome breath of fresh air amid the hot, close, and strident media atmosphere surrounding discussions about firearms.
My thanks to Findley for sharing his inner discussion on this topic with all of us.