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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

In Defense of the Second Amendment

Being a lifetime member of the NRA and a “pro gun type” as classified by Andy Metzger’s “Flushed: Gentleman’s Sport?” OP-ED piece in the March 20, 2006 issue, I feel compelled to offer a viewpoint from the other side of the issue. From the way Andy blurs the two topics together, I can tell he is very enthusiastic in the debates over gun control and hunting. For the sake of clarity, I will discuss them separately.

On the topic of the Second Amendment and gun control, Andy claims, “the only legitimate use for guns…is for sport.” This statement is incorrect in that another use of firearms is for self-defense. According to research by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, firearms are used as many as 2.5 million times annually for personal protection. The recent aftermath in the wake of hurricane Katrina is a prime example where personal firearms use saved many lives. With police protection non-existent, armed citizens stood guard over their own neighborhoods to prevent looters and gangs from taking over or causing bodily harm.

The “Rambo” reference made by Andy is just plain absurd. To say that gun owners run around solving their problems with ammo is a poor argument. According to the FBI, the 38 states having “shall issue” laws that allow citizens to carry concealed handguns see on average, 21% lower total crime, 28% lower murder rates, 43% lower robberies and 13% lower aggravated assaults. Why does this decrease happen? It is because criminals have to think twice whether or not their intended victim is carrying a firearm or not. Possibly, being shot while attempting to commit their crimes becomes the attacker’s main concern. Currently there are about six million people who carry concealed weapons in the U.S. So I ask: Where are all the Rambo gunfights between these six million people?

In his suggestion for Massachusetts to ban guns altogether, Andy doesn’t realize that this would not be possible as it is unconstitutional. If Massachusetts was successful to enact this legislation, the resulting lawsuits would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The ban would more than likely be found unconstitutional since by the Second Amendment the ban is a blatant “infringement” on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

On the topic of hunting, Andy is correct: the Bill of Rights does not state that the right to hunt shall not be infringed. Hunting is not a right, but rather a privilege. A hunter can only go out into the field after completing a hunter education course and passing a test. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, there are an estimated 17.9 million hunters in the U.S. In 2002, the International Hunter Education Association lists 761 hunting accidents and 89 hunting fatalities. This reflects an incident rate of 4.86 per 100,000 hunters. The Bill of Rights also does not state that the right to drive a car shall not be infringed. It too is a privilege and a driver must pass an education course (in some states) and pass a driver’s test. In comparison, motor vehicles kill over 43,000 people a year, reflecting about 16 per 100,000 people, not just drivers. When limited to just drivers, around 190 million according to the Federal Highway Administration, then the number rises to 22.63 per 100,000 drivers. The stunning part of this statistic is that these are just motor vehicle related deaths and does not include injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Does this mean we should ban driving because it has such a high death toll? Should we then ban guns or hunting? The answer is the same for both questions.

Anyone interested in additional views from the pro-gun side of these issues can visit www.goal.org, a Massachusetts-based pro-gun organization.