Letter to Editor: Firearm enthusiasts are not the problem
After reading The Cougar’s recent column, “Gun obsession is an issue of a nation, not just a male one,” I think the author has a misunderstanding about the culture of firearm enthusiasts in America and does a disservice to the community of lawful gun owners by calling firearm ownership in America a “pandemic.”
The aforementioned column has a very typical anti-gun argument that espouses the dangers of firearms without ever mentioning realistic steps to reduce gun violence. It is easy to make statistics sound scary when they are used without any comparison for context.
For example, the author quotes the 11,000 incidents of U.S. firearm-related deaths in 2017 but does not make any reference to crucial points, such as how these firearms were obtained and whether the deaths were the result of criminal activity, gang violence, suicide or domestic violence.
In 2016, 0.3 percent of all criminal convictions in Texas were of people who held handgun licenses, according to the Department of Public Safety. Out of more than 40,000 convictions, less than 150 of those was of a licensee. We should agree that any instances of unjustified firearm deaths are unacceptable, but to solve the problem, it must be understood who and where the problems are.
Those in opposition to firearms do not always appreciate the argument that the only defense against a criminal with a weapon is a police officer or an armed citizen. The original article does not provide any specific proposals for reduction of gun violence aside from pointing out a general desire for a reduction of firearm numbers or tightening gun control.
The argument moves closer to an infringement on the Second Amendment when it relies on a very generalized position that firearm ownership simply needs tighter control without clarifying who should be restricted or for what reasons.
The ones who take the law seriously are people who train for self-defense or for a profession or hobby.
Existing law includes filling out a background check — form 4473 — when buying from any dealer who holds a federal firearms license, and the law requires applicants to be fingerprinted, pass a background check and complete required classroom and practical evaluation to obtain a handgun license.
Personal responsibility as a gun owner also means storing and maintaining and operating weapons safely.
The author uses an example of Norway, where a certification course must be taken to acquire a hunting or sporting license. Perhaps the author is unaware that many states in the U.S., including Texas, require a mandatory hunter education for firearms purchases and require that young people take the course accompanied by an adult.
We should place our focus on education of responsible firearm use, eliminating the trafficking of stolen guns and empowering honest citizens to protect themselves. Additionally, we should have a national debate on the effectiveness of our laws and the scope of restrictions we put on the ownership of firearms.
Many gun enthusiasts would be welcome to debate these topics openly and come to practical solutions, but opinions that only further the idea of a “pandemic” of guns add to the problem by vilifying the honest, law-abiding gun owners who are not part of the problem.
If responsibility and safety become a focus, we will be fostering a culture of respect for firearms and respect for the law. The statistical minority of people that choose to disobey the law and commit violence on others should be dealt with appropriately but not at the expense of those who are exercising their rights for sport and enjoyment.
Staff writer Conner Jones is a supply chain logistics senior. He can be reached at [email protected].