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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: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

because people dont use knives, bats, ropes, cars and heavy objects to kill people? no, if someone is intending to end anothers life, its going to happen, gun or not. but i do agree with background checks. nothing wrong with that.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Think Tank

Probably the best piece written about guns in this newspaper. This is the kind of level headed thinking we need in this country. Instead of people snapping at every mention of doing something about the gun violence problem as if the Third Reich is taking over we need to settle down as a society and find sensible solutions. I am however just waiting for all of the comments about knives. I just know people are going to bring up knives even though they are far less effective killing machines.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Enough is enough

Great article, I canít wait to read the usual comments from the gun tooting whackos who will probably kill me in the cross fire when they feel itís their right to stop someone walks into Wal-Mart instead of waiting for police. Iím tired of seeing these gun idiots in Wal-Mart. Seeing this makes less safe and more fearful for my life.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: 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 donít warrant national headlines as they arenít sexy, overly tragic or push an anti-gun agenda.

Manís desire to control every aspect of life, death and sometimes to control other peopleís lives leads the few and many down the road to subjugation.

The problem is people, not guns.

Mental illness, drugs and the entitlement mentality given to every man that is born of circumstances the bleeding hearts deem to be a handicap, are the problem.

Until these issues are discussed publicly, openly, frankly and without the mandatory political correct dialogue, no solution will be found by any legislation.

Until then, gun violence will still be a problem but when weighed against the alternatives, like government tracked ammo, registered guns and registered gun owners, itís a necessary evil.

If we accept the so called solutions desired by the rich and powerful men and women of this country, we have taken the first step towards confiscation and the end of the most successful and long lived Republic in the history of mankind.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Mark Schneider

Please look up Regulated from dictionary from that period of time. It relates to well running and organized, equipped.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: joker wilde

An excellent column, Mr. Choate. Now prepare for the storm from the crackpots.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Yes, Let Us Find Solutions Together

Thanks for an opportunity to present specific proposals. Here's a few to add to background checks.

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

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. See you'll have several bullets still available to you but no bad guys around.

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

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Thanks for Responsible Gun Talk

What an excellent piece by a responsible gun owner. A shame only the voice of the minority of gun owners on the side of Wayne Lapierre seem to be heard.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Spot On

"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." Best statement I have yet to read from any local, regional, or national publication on the topic.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Guns Don't = Politeness, Guns = Quick Fatal Answers to Small Mines

Also there's reason to believe all those macho men and woman "packing" feel there is a limit on having to be "polite." It's much easier to debate an issue politely for the first couple of minutes yet as soon as Joe 6-shooter feels he's losing the debate and the anger builds up, out comes the debate "equalizer". And want about all those polite Joe 6-shooters displaying his wooomaan and having some poor little teenage boy eyeing her - boom boom.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: No One No Where

Mr. Choate,

The problem is where to you draw the line? Once you begin infringing on one of our rights where do you stop? Or will you ever stop? How long do you think you'll have a job if the government starts infringing on your 1st Amendment rights to write this column? Since you tend to toe a little further to the left than your editor you may last a bit longer, but not by much. Then when you no longer have the right to voice your opinion you will wish you still had those guns you agreed to give up in order to protect your right to be arrested and imprisoned without a trial. At which point Obama will appoint himself King and we'll all be SOL.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: R H

Restricting people's rights is an inherently RUDE action. Do not expect gun owners to remain polite while you insult them and demand that government 'do something about it' while leaving the specifics up to government. That would be about as foolish as asking government to crack down on black people to make you 'feel' safe from crime. It tends to be a NON-solution and insults and alienates people to boot.
Gun owners have been 'compromising' for a LONG time and frankly , I see NOTHING in the way of real compromise from active anti-gunners or quislings like you (who seem happy to sit idly by while MORE rights are trampled). If 'compromise' is really what you want , start talking to the antigunners about which current gun laws they are willing to modify in favor of GREATER liberty. Some examples ?.
*Nationwide reciprocity for carry permits: Drivers licenses are respected from coast-to-coast yet cars kill far more people than guns do.
*Reducing the amount of paperwork and wait times for NFA transfers (google it and educate yourself).
*An end to these moronic offensives against gun rights where people with absolutely NO CLUE about guns write laws against them and spike prices through the roof.
You should also educate yourself about the 2nd Amendment. It was not written into the Bill Of Rights to preserve skeetshooting , hunting , or shooting burglars. It is an insurance policy against tyranny. If the thought of domestic insurrection terrifies you , GOOD. It should . It scares the bejebus out of Me too. That said , I fear tyranny even more. Why do I fear tyranny ?. Because people like YOU will ignore it when it is staring you in the face.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

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.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: desert dweller

It's amazing how some people can't see past the end of their nose! If you think its bad now with a certain percentage of people armed and able to defend themselves....just how bad would it be if obozo took all guns...all that is except the criminal element.....you really think that would be better ...REALLY?

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Avg Joe

I haven't heard much talk about "detering" criminals from commiting crimes using guns. With that in mind, The judicial system needs to start enforcing the CURRENT laws on the books and SEVERELY punish those that use a gun during a crime. Stop punishing the law abiding citizen and punish the law breakers. It's really that simple!

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Just Wondering

I agree with when you talk responsibility but let's not narrow it down to only gun owners. Laws only work if you have people who abide by them. And there is a growing population that has no regard for the law. Gun violence is just the one that gets the most publicity. Theft is rampant. Child abuse is in the news all the time. Drug arrests are as common as traffic tickets. Until you change the culture, things will only get worse.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

I rarely agree with this editor, but polite behavior and guns have absolutely nothing in common, all one has to do is look to countries with rampant uncontrolled gun access in middle east, central america, south america violence is rampant, and many of these countries have strick gun laws which are disobeyed by its citizens hence this editor is wasting his time since gun laws or not folks intent on having guns will not pay attention to laws if they really truly want to have them and have a fear of their governments which one sees in many places in the 3rd world! I do not think anyone including this editor has any real solutions or he would not be working but wealthy, rich from the being the one with the solution to a age old issue which has been around since dawn of mankind or violent natures which some of us control and some do not!

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Excellent and well thought out editorial.

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

And now we await the "polite" responses from the suual suspects.

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