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Don't Blame the Guns

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Dear Mr. [Harold] Henderson:

Regarding your article "Policy: Guns 'n' Poses" [December 16], I imagine that the feedback falls into two groups: those who feel you have sold out humanity and the common good by actually contemplating the reality of limiting gun control, and those who send you NRA leaflets to bolster your "attack" on those gun control "nuts" who are basically "commies" anyway.

I am in the middle of the road (avoiding the lunging cars). It is inane to assume that if we criminate firearms that murder will diminish . . . or that turf wars between rival drug factions will be resolved more peaceably.

Your article is the first that I have read that makes the politically incorrect attempt to think sensibly about ruling out superficial firearm proscriptions. Washington, D.C., as your article points out is a gun control mecca yet in some neighborhoods the murder rate is three or four times the national average. This city also has the highest per capita investment in the school system yet regularly graduates fewer and fewer students. Just as money alone is not the solution to dropout rates, gun control laws alone are not the solution to violence.

Violence is a by-product. The stimulant can be rage, jealousy, insanity, or greed. The first three are difficult to control. If I am intent on splattering blood on my high school walls to seek revenge for the tortures of adolescence I can use a gun, drive my pickup through a pep rally at the assembly hall, molotov the joint, or read Soldier of Fortune and make a bomb out of my Mommy's gardening supplies . . . whichever gets me off. If I am unable to differentiate right from wrong whether due to a detectable progressive mental disorder or from an instantaneous explosion of anger the complete absence of legal firearms will decrease the number of deaths by guns . . . but it will not decrease the number of murders. The last stimulant is greed, principally the greed that results in the discharge of a firearm. That greed is part and parcel of drug distribution. It is not based on color lines nor along neighborhood boundaries; drugs kill people by use/misuse, by the competitive network established to distribute it to buyers and finally by individuals to gather funds to purchase. If an individual is serious about decreasing the number of guns in "bad hands" and also decreasing the number of firearm deaths then the philippics about the ignominy of firearms need to stop, and a solution must be found for our drug problem. Perhaps the solution is to decriminalize drugs, maybe it is to build even more and even bigger prisons; regardless, you will not stop crimes of passion or ignorance but you can address the murder rate . . . by stopping the capitalism of drug dealing.

Matt Belcher

W. Cornelia

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