Dear Reader editors:
Bryan Miller's article on women and guns [February 4] was the most persuasive polemic I've read in favor of widespread handgun ownership.
Its glaring weakness was that it didn't do justice to the strong arguments against handguns as a deterrent to crime. The quotes from the NOW and gun control leaders were ludicrous--that women should be willing to be raped rather than hurting someone and having to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. I think Miller needed to find some other antigun sources.
There are much more convincing counterarguments. There is great potential that gun ownership will lead to accidents, that guns will be used in domestic disputes, and that innocent people will be shot by paranoid gun owners (as in the Louisiana case where the Japanese exchange student was killed). Think about all the people you know--do you trust their emotional stability and technical competence to the point that you'd feel confident about them carrying a .38 in their pocket?
Many crime victims are taken off guard. How likely is it that you'll have the gun at hand when you're attacked? Will the gun give you a false sense of security that will reduce your vigilance about avoiding likely crime situations?
Miller says there were more than one million incidents where guns were used to deter crime, but how many cases were there where a criminal seized the gun and used it against the owner, or stole it and used it in another crime?
A Chicago police detective gave a crime-prevention lecture to women at my workplace in which he advised against carrying guns. He said most law-abiding people, at the critical moment, will hesitate to shoot. The bad guys have no such qualms. They'll use that delay to grab the weapon.
Think hard--are you sure you'd be willing to pull the trigger when the moment comes?
Bryan Miller replies:
If the quotes from the antigun forces were "ludicrous," it's because their arguments are ludicrous. I spoke to the president of the largest and best-known feminist organization in town, someone whose views on women's self-defense were certainly germane to the scope of my article, and to the reigning antigun Usual Suspect, a young man whose opinions on the subject are treated with respect in newspapers and on talk shows everywhere.
Chicago police detectives giving self-defense lectures in their roles as Chicago police detectives are naturally going to be officially antigun, because the political policy of the Chicago Police Department is antigun. Almost every police officer to whom I've ever spoken on the subject, however, is a believer in private gun ownership by responsible citizens. They obviously believe the statistics that show that armed citizens take care of more bad guys than the cops do.