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home : opinion : opinion May 26, 2016

2/23/2013 6:01:00 AM
Editorial: Armed, but not necessarily polite

Alan Choate
News Editor

The most popular answer to our recent online poll about maintaining a ban on firearms at the Mohave County Administration Building was this: "An armed society is a polite society."

That's the idealist's view from some sectors of the gun rights community. Supposedly, an armed populace will be nice all the time because lethal force is just a quick-draw away.

Like most idealistic views, though, it crashes on the rocky shores of reality. Face it - we already are an armed society. But instead of being polite, it appears that the more armed we are, the more likely we are to shoot each other.

Now, before the online comment trolls form a virtual firing squad, here's some context. I am a gun owner. I like to shoot. (How well I shoot is another matter entirely.) While I think that we can do a much better job of backgrounding those who want to own firearms, I also hold that other so-called "gun control" measures - bans on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, for example - would be empty steps unless coupled with outright, enforced confiscation. And that would backfire on so many levels it's not worth going down that road.

That said, however, the evidence suggests we need a time out from our shiny, deadly toys. For example:

• Las Vegas, Thursday morning. A bunch of men get into an argument outside of a Strip resort. One group follows the other, guns down a man in his car and causes a wreck in which a taxi explodes, killing two more people.

• Delaware, this month. A former police officer shoots and kills his son's ex-wife and her friend outside of a courthouse where they had gone for a custody hearing involving the shooter's son. He exchanges gunfire with police and then kills himself.

• Phoenix, last month. A guy participating in mediation, which is supposed to avoid the adversarial nature of a court hearing, actually prepares in advance of the meeting with two guns, ammunition and a getaway car. When the meeting doesn't go well, he shoots the other parties and, eventually, himself.

• November, Jacksonville, Fla. A man pulls into a gas station next to a car full of teenagers playing loud music. He and one of the teens get into an argument. The man pulls out a handgun and pumps eight or nine rounds into the car, striking the teen with two, killing him. The shooter later says he felt threatened.

• And - what the heck? - an international one. South African "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorious fires four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing his girlfriend. Even taking his story of a suspected intruder at face value, he still fired blindly through a door, which no responsible gun owner would ever do. Oh, and the original detective investigating his case had to be replaced because he's facing seven attempted murder charges for shooting at a minibus.

That's just a smattering of examples. Any week's worth of news would produce equally viable cases.

People with guns kill people. You take the gun out of any of the situations listed above, and you've got a screaming match, a fistfight or a tense wait for the police.

People, of course, will continue to own firearms in this country, and that is fine. Target shooting, skeet, hunting - all great pursuits.

Self-defense? I've never needed a weapon for that purpose, but others have, and both the law and history are on the side of responsibly owning a firearm for protection. No problems there.

Where we've gone wrong, though, is focusing too much on "shall not be infringed" and not enough on the Second Amendment's "well-regulated" wording. Gun ownership is a serious responsibility, just like driving, serving food and practicing medicine. But it's reached a point where guns are treated like accessories and playthings - not by all, or even by most, but by enough bad apples that those of us who have some idea what we're doing have to support reining in the idiots, even if we have to accept some new rules to do so.

Beyond more background scrutiny, I lack specific proposals.

But I'm open to ideas - as long as you're polite.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

From what I have heard in what news I have watched last few days, it seems to me guys are laying down their guns and and causing mayhem with , of all things, Knives. For people who want to kill others and destroy lives they will always find a means by which to do so!
Why is it that men do more of these horrific acts than females?? Why is that?

Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013
Article comment by: Robert Cole

In response to your article on " An armed society is a polite society>

Guns are not the issue here, the issue is irresponsibity. I can inflict just as much damage one on one upon you utilizing a knife or hammer, a gun is just easier. They took over 3 planes on 911 with box cutters. A gun in the hands of a crazy person is only met with an equal force and that is a gun in the intended victims hands. I did not see any opposing view points concerning how many people in America in that same time frame were saved by having a gun available to them.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

33% of all murders in 2011 were by non gun weapons. 13% were by bladed weapons. Clearly just because a gun is present is not the cause for a person to do murder.

Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
Article comment by: J J

TJ - glad you mentioned that. Heart disease is more likely to kill any of us than a gun toting criminal, yet all the gun nuts are more concerned with carrying a gun. Well it won't protect them from their own heart and they'll likely never need that gun to fend off an attack.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Tj Denton

Jj. Drunk drivers and fatness kill more people than gunds, suppose we should require fingerprints so you can only drink 3 beers and one bigs mac a week???

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: South Africa .....

(Adding to the previous person commenting here.....) South Africa's situation requires gun ownership. I have seen the normally-suppressed photos of entire farm families butchered. Thousands of farm families have been murdered! In Durban on the Indian Ocean, residents on the upper floors of apartments & hotels may look down as cruise ships disembark passengers to the local street bazaars, where they are ritually robbed. It is one of the world's true hazard to land at Johannesburg airport and then drive home. Spotters look for well-heeled travelers, then follow them home to commit grisly robbery/murders. As in any locale, there may be an abuse of gun ownership, but this does not change the overall picture.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Toth's unFriend CEM

"...which no responsible gun owner would ever do."

You said this, yet, you said it in only one circumstance, that being the South African one. Why did you not say that no responsible gun owner would shoot up another car after an argument? Or that no responsible gun owner would premeditate murder? Would your required background check have prevented the ex-cop from killing his son's ex? Would it have prevented the criminal from shooting his rival in Vegas?

No responsible gun owner would do any of the things listed, yet they are done. Which of these incidents would have been stopped with increased background checks?

You hope to "[reign] in the idiots", yet, our justice system can't prevent repeat offenders who drive drunk, beat their wives and children, or producers of child pornography. When is the last time you proposed stricter action against any of those?

I know what happens in Mohave County, as I call it home. Which of the three I listed, and gun violence, happens more in this county?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Well Said But Disagree

Mr. Choate

You article was well written, but I can't agree with all of it. We are not talking about disagreeing with a set speed limit in a certain area or something. We are talking about the Constitution. I am sorry, but this is a "give them an inch and they'll take a mile" scenario.

@ Jimi Lightfoot

"11/6/12 Rock, WV 11/16/12 New Orleans, LA 11/2/12 Cambridge, MD 11/8/13 Alcalde, NM 10/23/12 Lake City, FL 10/24/12 York, PN 11/2/12 Greene County, TN.

All these dates and places are a fraction of the locations over two months last year that citizens legally and lawfully defended lives, loved ones and property.

In Dec 2012 alone there were over 7 documented cases where a gun SAVED lives and not one child or innocent was killed.

They don’t warrant national headlines as they aren’t sexy, overly tragic or push an anti-gun agenda."

Exactly right!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: J J

@TJ - yea, because all those mass-hangings are just overrunning our country. And lest we forget all those homicidal maniacs driving around in cars just running people down block by block. Oh, and who can forget that crazy guy with the anvil that went on a murderous rampage last week? Oh, and remember when the baseball team went crazy and broke into an elementary school and beat everyone to death? Crazy!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

From my cold dead hands...your a day late and dollar short, this administration/government was not in power during Katrina, that was your Bush Jr and Cheney pals! I think the worry warts on the right wing just need something to whine, cry about or they could not get through their day of misery at having lost the white house for a second try!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: J J

@rick o'shea - Could that be, perchance, that the occurrence of people saving the day with a gun are so infrequent that you simply just don't notice when the news does report it? I see them pretty frequently, but not nearly as frequently as the crimes being committed with guns. See Rick, there's something called statistics.

The statistics tell us that even if every news channel in America ran a story on every single gun that "saved the day," it would still only amount to one or two stories a week at most. Now contrast that by how many people are murdered with a gun each week and have the news run every single story on that and you'd find that you would read upward of seven stories per HOUR of people being shot/killed by a gun, not to mention the 53 suicides by gun per day in the US.

So even if it were possible for the news to report every single good guy with a gun saving the day or stopping a crime, it would be drowned out by the impossible to ignore fact that there are hundreds more murders and suicides with guns per week than there are "heroes" with guns per week. Can't argue with facts, chief.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

They already have background checks so what is the big deal? Do you mean if they enforce them? It is all just smoking mirrors and nothing can or will be done...
Let's quit the diversion and fix our economy and lower the price of gas so people can afford to drive to work...if they have a job.
If everyone was upset about not having jobs, the price of gas and how our government is destroying our economy, we would kick these bums out of office and start all over.
If an oil refinery shuts down to upgrade, they just raise the price of gas to pay for it. Don't you wish you could do that with your business?
Where is the outrage where you need it?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Doing Research

OK, so here's a question:

What action movie do you all think you live in?
1) Government is taking away all your guns!
2) You need guns every day, 24/7 in order to maintain personal security!
3) The world is not safe!!!!! AHHH!!!! Panic and shoot everything!!!
4) Robots in the sky watch you do everything!!!

I'm thinking:
Bruce WIllis as Frank Lee
Betty White as Linda Athens
John Krasinski as Anson's Nephew
Jane Fonda as Linda Gabriel-Dane (yes, everyone's going to love that)
and I'll be played by.... Ben Affleck (with the beard from Argo).

Cameos by:
John Malkovich as Jimi Lightfoot
Chris Katan as Anon Anon
Melissa McCarthy as Desert Dweller

Still working on a title... thoughts? Maybe Transformers 4?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Any law passed has to be enforced, costs money in hiring the law enforcement to enforce it, hence how has the auto tag, registration, licensing laws working, have folks quit driving without licenses, expired tags, expired insurance, etc.? We have self proclaimed geniuses who have such utopian ideas but we do not live in a utopian world! Laws work for those who obey them who most likely would not violate the issue whether the law existed or not, anyone who is prone to do wrong will not care what law you pass or have on books!

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

a fingerprint gun and a 3 round clip???

and us gun toting "whackos" are dumb?
thats the dumbest thing i think i have heard all year. im just....i dont even know what to say lol

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: our own worst enemy mr.c.

@Alan Choate, What did you do, pigeon hole my comment almost verbatim on this very subject, LOL. In a comment to the miner, My position then and now on any new gun control legislation "should not" be considered oppressive, if background checks, extended waiting periods and smaller magazine capacity were imposed upon gun buyers and owners.

Point being, your article is thought provoking and written in a manner far better then my comment, so I'm slightly jealousy and while I agree with you "almost" totally on everything else written Going armed in public I still find troubling, especially at certain functions and events.

Since I'm in no position to hire body guard's for myself, family and Given everything should be equal, perhaps going arm isn't totally out of the question.This mentality to shoot now explain it later tho, is without merit in my opinion. Yet that appears to be exactly what is happening.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby jay

@ Choate How do you plan to disarm the criminals the ones that break the law you wont and you cant. The guns will come from other countries 57,000 people have been killed in mexico over the last 3 years to gun violence guns are not allowed in mexico. So were are the guns coming from. Cocaine comes from south america so will the guns? I have a better idea lets put a senser in everybody and make sure everyone lives to be 85 boy thats a great way to live. Have some common sense oh! thats right only about 15% of americans have it.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

@Yes, Let Us Find Solutions Together

I agree with Stoke and FLS (big surprise there, right?)

Your ideas are not practical and would never work.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ Yes, Let Us Find Solutions Together
Your solutions are completely unworkable.

The fingerprint gun...would that be left or right hand? What if I have to use the non-programmed hand? What if someone else needs my weapon for defense? Do a few searches for people (sometimes children) that have used another persons gun for defense. That's without mentioning that the technology doesn't even exist. There was/is a system where the user needs to wear a specific magnetic ring...but that doesn't help anyone else needing it. It also only worked with revolvers which are not as widely used.

Limiting magazines to 3-5 rounds? Well...since even small revolvers carry a minimum of 5 and more often 6 or more....I doubt the entire industry is going to change. I really have no problem with a limit of 10...since it takes less than 2 seconds to swap in a new one...even for a moderately trained person.

The license, registration and insurance? Background checks are already done upon purchase from a dealer, and I'd have no problem with that requirement being placed on transfers between individuals for a reasonable fee of less than $10 or so.

Registration...nope...that I disagree with as do the majority of gun owners.

Insurance? For what? Accidental discharge? Defending yourself? Theft? I already have the last...it's called a homeowners policy.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Yes, Let Us Find Solutions Together

"1. guns with fingerprint sensitivity that only allow discharging by owner"

Not yet practical. Would be more prone to failure than a strictly mechanical weapon. Why not just wish for a Star Trek phaser instead?

"2. limit magazines, clips, firing capacities to 3-5 bullets. For those claiming they need 5 bullets to ward off the 5 gang members at the door - it is human nature when 1 bullet is fired, all run in the opposite direction.

Yeah, human nature to run away.......except when they don't. 3 to 5 bullet limit? Good luck ever getting that passed. By the way, are you planning on banning the millions of 10, 20, and 30 round magazines already out there? Can we count on you volunteering to go house to house searching for them? Better build a lot more prisons.

"3. licensing, registration, insurance just like automobile ownership."

I'm sure this is one proposal that criminals tremble in fear over, LoL. Seriously though, if someone does not drive a car they have on public roads, there is no law requirering any of those things. And if the govt mandates very high premiums be charged only the wealthy and criminals will be armed. It is unconstitutional and as odious as a poll tax. Good luck passing and enforcing that as well.

It's been fun. Stop back when you have proposals that are actually sensible and have even a remote chance of passing.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking


"And want about all those polite Joe 6-shooters displaying his wooomaan and having some poor little teenage boy eyeing her - boom boom."

What a clownish comment. You of course can provide us with an example of this having actually occuring anywhere any time, right? Didn't think so. And remember, since you used the disparaging term "joe 6-shooter" and the word woman displayed as "woomaan" as what you think are funny examples of white males who own guns, using any news stories in which the shooter is some black, big city gang banger type (AKA, the obama voter base) will not be acceptable. The recent shooting on the Vegas Strip would be a good example of "unacceptable".


Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: from my cold dead hands .....

This is a Government which went house-to-house disarming American citizens in New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina. They were left defenseless against armed thugs afterwards. This is a Government which - drawing from my experience in Mohave County - will not consider itself restrained by the Constitution. This is a reference to illegal residential break-ins (plural). I will not be silenced, even by the most ignorant and irresponsible shills here. Apart from clear threats, I personally don't see a need to bring guns into the County Administration Building, but every discussion regarding gun restrictions should prominently include those government actions, such as I have referenced, which they commit surreptitiously and maliciously (after breaking in, they do other things). Oh, and we haven't even got to the profiteering from their crimes through the film industry. You thought last night in Hollywood was just about glitter and other vanities?

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: BOBO CLOWN

Great article & I am with you on it, most comments seem to be at this point (with you). To the sicko Obama haters better hurry & get the man out of office before this term ends so he cannot become a DICTATOR......

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Nice Chuckle

"What is sad about or media in this country is how the crimes with firearms are constantly shoved in our face but the stories where a life is saved or a crime is stopped by the use of a gun rarely gets coverage, media manipulation, plain and simple."

It couldn't be cause one stat outnumbers the other by far. Nah, it couldn't be that simple, could it?

No conspiracy there, just news reporting.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@ansons nephew

"Yes to extensive background checks, one of the best concepts under cconsideration"

Great observation. Now explain how it would have made a bit of difference in preventing any of the 3 cases that occurred in this country. The case in S.A. is of no matter at all since it is not in this country.

No unsubstantiated BS guessing allowed.

So a handful of deaths. Interesting news stories, hyped by the media for ratings. Meanwhile millions and millions of gun owners are out there not killing anyone with their guns. Bottom line? Not enough reason to infringe on the rights of millions.

But I'm sure grovelers will disagree.

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