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Letters to the Editor

Gun violence is society's cancer

Mack Paul March 2nd, 2011

Grant “Jake” Goss (Letters, “Councilman misfires with gun comment,” Feb. 16, Gazette) makes an excellent point in his defense of gun ownership when he compares the efforts at gun control with efforts to criminalize drugs.

Our war on drugs has been an expensive and ultimately cruel exercise in futility. It has been a failure at every level. He possesses a very clear understanding of the lethal power of any firearm, and I appreciate that.

From there on, I’m afraid our views diverge. He fails to appreciate that guns create a substantial threat to public health. In the last decade, 270,000 Americans have died from gun violence. Statistics indicate that a gun owner is four times more likely to die from gun violence than someone who does not own a gun.

He does make the argument for an armed citizenry in case the government “turns on its people,” a statement that might be interpreted broadly enough to include someone one group doesn’t like, to the presidency. American exceptionalism is derived from the willingness to settle our political conflicts peacefully. The suggestion that our political disagreements might be corrected with a fratricidal bloodbath strikes me as the kind of unconscionable thinking that every citizen should reject.

We’ve been bombarded for a very long time with disturbing, gut-wrenching stories about gun violence. It is a pervasive fact of American life. I suggest that we begin to treat them like cigarettes. Over a period of time, people began to realize that smoking makes you sick and kills you. Cigarettes are, as they should be, legal, but many fewer people smoke.

Perhaps they might begin to feel the same way about guns. Gun violence is a cancer in our society. In the 1946 film “The Big Sleep,” Humphrey Bogart utters one of the greatest lines in movie history. After disarming a thug, he says “Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains!” It would make a nice billboard.

—Mack Paul

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