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Return to the Wild West

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I thought Bryan Miller's article about guns and women [February 4] was misleading and full of contradictions.

First, it is not a myth that guns in the home are dangerous. An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a gun in a family home is 43 percent more likely to injure a family member than an intruder.

The story Pat Valentino related is an example of how having a gun does not insure that a woman is safe. If officers can put "38 holes" in a man and still have him "alive and running," what good will one handgun do a woman for protection?

Additionally, shooting an attacker may not be a legally proper response. The woman in the article who spoke of shooting a man as he entered her store late at night had no legal justification for shooting him. Legally, a person may only respond with deadly force if threatened with like force. From the layperson's view, this is based on a recognition that breaking and entering is a serious crime, but it does not merit the death penalty.

And finally, despite what Bryan Miller implied, guns are also not the answer to the problems of battered women. If a woman wounds or kills her batterer she has to live with the consequences of that act. Killing or wounding their abuser does not solve all of their problems, and many of these women are in prison.

Last week [February 18] the Reader published a letter responding to the guns and women article which relates an incident in which a person was injured by a woman trained in Chimera self-defense because she was an angry woman "walking around half-trained waiting to provoke a confrontation." Imagine the injuries that will result if these allegedly angry women were all armed with guns.

I am not suggesting that women do not have the right to protect themselves, but I am uncomfortable with advocating a return to the wild west, where people shoot first and ask questions later.

Jennifer Welch and Kirsten Olson

Angry women . . .

Chicago

Bryan Miller replies:

Although they fail to give the citation, Welch and Olson are apparently referring to the since-discredited article by Arthur Kellermann in the October 7, 1993, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. His writings are frequently cited by gun control's true believers, but are shunned by serious researchers. For a concise discussion of some of the logical and methodological blunders of Kellermann's work, I refer you to Daniel Polsby's superb article in the March Atlantic Monthly.

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