Gun collage

Photocomposition Thursday Review

Readers Sound Off on Gun Control

| published January 22, 2016 |

By Thursday Review editors

Here are just some of the comments regarding our recent article examining the concept of “mass shootings”; what is a mass shooting, and who officially defines it? (See "How Many Mass Shootings Were There is 2015?" ;Thursday Review; December 10, 2015.) Note that these responses and comments come to us by way of emails, though our LiveFyre comment board feature, through our Word Press blog, and in social media outreach on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and Google+.

Robert Harwood; Houston, Texas: This issue is particularly important to me since I am a recently retired police officer who spent many hours some weeks investigating shootings. The author is correct to make sure readers understand the critical differences between “mass shootings,” which must meet a specific, narrow criterion for law enforcement, and the half dozen other categories of gun violence—including suicide, which has been on slow rise for about 10 years. Death by firearms is much lower than when I first became a police officer in 1992. This is not to say I endorse the widespread availability of weapons, since as a 22-year veteran of law enforcement work I have seen the pain it has caused families and communities, especially accidental deaths of children in the home. And I do not generally support the expansion of open-carry or concealed-carry provisions, as this can lead to more novices and private citizens with guns in the wrong place and the wrong time. However, gun control advocates prey dishonestly on base fear by claiming there have been some 360 “mass shootings” in 2015, when clearly no such thing has happened. Gun violence is clearly down.

Julie Covington; Richmond, VA (via email): I am opposed to guns, period, but I also understand that new guns laws now will do little to disarm the criminal elements, nor [will they] have any major impact on keeping guns out of the hands of troubled individuals as long as people act irresponsibly and stupidly in keeping their own guns safe and secure.

Macie Edwards, Florence, AL (via Gmail): The first time I saw those reports of 355 mass shootings in 2015 I asked “where were all those shootings?” Did the mainstream media just ignore them? Then I did a little research and saw that someone was counting “mass shootings” as any gun activity with two or more people. Hardly seems “mass” to me. I own a gun, never fired it except at range, hope to never fire it again. But seems dishonest to call every convenience store robbery and every gang shootout a “mass” event. Interesting article which I bet liberals won’t even bother to read.

Linda Wygand, Yahoo: It should make little difference how we define a mass shooting as long as there are thousands of victims of gun violence each year. Founding Fathers did not intend a heavily armed society, and certainly did not see automatic weapons in the hands of average people. A mass shooting ought to be [defined as] any shooting in which two or more are killed or injured. The NRA is distorting the second amendment so that gun companies can sell guns.

Jeff Lawson, Kansas City, MO: It may seem strange to some, but we need to rethink that old rule that says “just cooperate” with perpetrators and madmen. In several of the most recent shootings, people just stood by silently and apparently watched not only as others were killed, but stared blankly as the gunmen shot them. We need to learn from those Americans and the British citizen who subdued the killer on the train in France: it’s not about heroics, it’s about saving your own life and sending the message to terrorists that people are willing to intercede.

Mike Shemetsky, Philadelphia, PA: I can’t fault average people for wanting to have guns in their houses for protection. But the problem clearly [is] irresponsible gun owners and lack of any form of training or understanding of the weapon. This leads to accidents and stupidity, and leads to guns being stolen and sometimes use against the very people who bought it for protection.

Galen Crabtree, Raleigh-Durham, NC (via AOL): Those stats on gun violence being down are true enough on the face, but misleading. As your author pointed out, gun violence is ticking back up slowly, and could overtake automobile deaths by next year. Suicide is also very much on the rise, sadly, because guns are everywhere, and cheap. We can always find ways to make cars safer, year after year; we can’t ever make guns “safer.” Nice try, but I don’t buy your thesis.

Haym Silver, Pittsburgh, PA: Good topic. Never owned a gun—never will. But the Second Amendment seems pretty clear to me: citizens can own weapons. Having said that, it’s foolhardy as a great nation that we screen people for driver’s licenses and vehicle ownership, fishing licenses, run credit checks and background checks just to rent an apartment or a storage unit or a U-Haul moving van, but to allow any idiot with a pulse to buy a gun in an expo hall somewhere, or in a pawn shop. Can’t we at least agree on better screening?

Brandon Thomas, Dothan, AL (via email): I live in a state where nearly every self-respecting male has learned to handle a hunting rifle by the time he’s 16. A lot of my friends and family members hunt deer, turkey, you name it. Still, I can hardly complain if we want to agree on better standards to decide who should NOT own a gun. The trick will be enforcement.

Cindy Rummels, Michigan (via Wordpress): Seems a weak argument you make: auto deaths still outnumber gun deaths, therefore guns are okay? Is that really your point? There were some 370 cases of mass shootings in 2015—don’t care what way the FBI or the police want to slice it and dice it. A mass shooting is any violent incident in which two or more are injured or killed, period. And even if ALL those shootings were one-on-one, gunman versus victim, that’s still thousands of deaths too many. Why do citizens need machine guns for “protection.”

Tony Gilliam, Orlando, FL (via Word Press): Nicely done. Puts an end to the hurricane of silliness in the media. Checked this myself on FBI public information page and through several think tanks: only 75 mass shootings since 1980, ever. Stop getting hysterical over dumb memes and unconfirmed "factoids" people post of Facebook.

Trey Johns, Tallahassee, FL (via Word Press): Oh if only it were as easy as making guns illegal. I thought we tried prohibition once in America…didn’t work, as I recall…just made criminals out of people who wanted a good martini or a glass of Scotch whiskey. Then again, ban all cars and auto deaths will surely fall too.

Related Thursday Review articles:

How Many Mass Shootings Were There in 2015?; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; December 10, 2015.

San Bernardino Suspects Had ISIS Links; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; December 4, 2015.