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CHRIS SCHILLIG: Is common sense uncommon with guns?

Alliance Review Published: January 27, 2013 4:00 AM

It's hard not to feel sorry for gun-rights advocates who keep shooting themselves in the foot -- and other parts of the anatomy -- in their attempts to persuade us that more guns equal a safer society.

Last Saturday was Gun Appreciation Day, selected by apparently tone-deaf organizers on the weekend before a federal holiday to honor civil-rights giant Martin Luther King Jr., whose own life was cut short by gun violence.

On this day, five people attending gun shows were accidentally shot -- in Raleigh, N.C., where a man's gun discharged, striking a trio of bystanders at the entrance to the Dixie Gun and Knife Show; in Indianapolis, where a man shot himself in the hand as he exited the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show; and closer to home, where a man shot a fellow exhibitor while opening a box containing a gun at the Medina Gun Show. All were accidental.

"Accidental" and gun mishaps, unfortunately, go hand in hand. In 2011, 851 people died in this country because of accidents with the 310 million estimated firearms in civilian circulation.

It's only common sense to recognize that the introduction of a gun into a situation increases the chances that a gun will be fired, intentionally or unintentionally, in that situation -- sometimes to the detriment of the user and sometimes to the detriment of innocent bystanders. Also, to be fair, sometimes to the detriment of an aggressor, but not as often as we might hope.

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For instance, one of several Time magazine articles published in the Jan. 28 edition (where most of the statistics in this column originate) notes that New York City police officers' "hit rate" in a gunfight is 30 percent when the target does not shoot back and an abysmal 18 percent when the target returns fire.

Yet one of the most insistent reactions to the recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary is a call to increase the number of armed personnel in our schools -- either with armed police officers or teachers. If a New York City cop has only an 18 percent chance of hitting a shooter, do we really expect better results from a seventh-grade science teacher?

Proponents argue that the presence of guns on school campuses is a deterrent, so that guards and teachers may never have to use those guns, that their presence is enough to keep potential shooters away.

But consider: If five people can be shot accidentally in one day at gun shows, how many accidents might we have to accept as a consequence of keeping our kids "safe" in class?

More knee-jerk legislation is not the answer to gun violence. The country doesn't need additional restrictions on gun ownership because the vast majority of gun owners -- last weekend's accidents notwithstanding -- are responsible people with the sense to store weapons and ammunition safely.

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Yet we also don't need to encourage the further proliferation of guns. With more guns than people in this country, we have enough firearms already.

It is unconscionable that the NRA is using the recent Sandy Hook tragedy as an opportunity to extend its political reach, and it is just as unconscionable that politicians, including the president, are using it as an opportunity to advance a political agenda. Both sides are preying on -- and perhaps are victims of -- fear. Cooler heads on both sides, or maybe somewhere in the middle, must prevail.

The sad truth is that, in 2011, the most common reason for gun deaths by far was suicide, with 19,766 people ending their own lives with firearms. Clearly, more needs to be done to bolster mental-health services in this country, which is why the $15 million that President Obama has proposed to train teachers to recognize mental illness and the $40 million that would help school districts refer students to mental-health help are the most sensible components of last week's executive and congressional to-do list. The same sorts of services need to be made more readily available to adults, as well.

Unfortunately, the parts of the president's proposals that will get all the attention are the attempts to ban assault rifles and high-capacity clips, which will serve only to offend gun owners who use those items lawfully and safely for recreational shooting. It will do little to curb crime.

If you own guns, lock them up. Store ammunition separately. While this greatly reduces the effectiveness of firearms for home protection (which is a false sense of security, anyway), the life you save and the injuries you prevent may be your own or that of somebody who has done you no harm.

Especially if you go to gun shows.

Chris Schillig is an Alliance area educator and journalist. Contact him at chris.schillig@yahoo.com

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anonymous Jan 28, 2013 5:00 PM

So the author of this article is an Alliance area educator. Maybe that explains why our school system has dropped to something like llth place in the world for education.

This article reeks of a high school report where a student will pick out a few points that support his point of view and entirely ignore those that do not. Then he often takes the few facts that he may have and miss interprets them.

The example of the accidental discharge of a gun at a gun show in Raleigh, N.C., is a clear example of faulty reasoning. He did not state the number of gun shows that were being held across this nation where no one was hurt. This equates to the auto accident where the driver was hurt: therefore we should not allow automobiles.

He wrote that 851 people died in this country because of accidents with the 310 million estimated firearms in civilian circulation. That would equate to .000002 person per gun owned. Care to try that with auto accidents or even accidental death caused at hospitals.

I could go on with the examples of faulty reasoning but I will end it by saying that on the day of the gun show 25 people had been killed in the city of Chicago. This city has the most stringent of gun control laws.

As a Journalist he should know better unless he was ordered to do so by his Editor.

anonymous Jan 28, 2013 9:21 AM

For certain, there is a complete lack of common sense in DC.

anonymous Jan 27, 2013 12:58 PM

President Obama wants to give the school districts (teachers unions) $55 million for training on how to spot mental health troubles in kids, then refer them to the shrinks. Where are the parents in all this? Teachers have a hard enough time trying to teach the 3'Rs & the ABC's. Now they will be the ones to start the referal paperwork that says your kid has a problem. Then what? What a headache for the parents. I think your family doctor could determine if your kid is normal through a physical and info from mom. Obama is pushing his anti American agenda, Always use a crisis to further your agenda. Maybe the (Dems game plan) agenda, includes some of the goals the commies/socialist had in 1958, and still have, on how to bring America down. The following is taken from the list of 45 Communist goals contained in the book, "The Naked Communist" written in 1958: by, W. Cleon Skousen... Goal 17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

Goal 32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

Goal 38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

Goal 39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist(Socialist) goals.

Goal 40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

Goal 41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents... If one would like to see the rest of these commie goals, use google. See how many have been fulfilled since 1958. Leave the 2d Amendment alone.

anonymous Jan 27, 2013 6:54 AM

A reasonable person, considering recent events, might wonder why Adam Lanza could not tolerate the conflicts in his life and chose to resolve them using overwhelming force. Did he learn the lesson of zero tolerance taught in our public schools all too well? Is not overwhelming force our first choice? Win at all cost? Are not these the ideals of the newly reinvigorated faction clamouring for gun control?

Ever vigilant for an opportunity to exploit emotion to dupe the public, Washington seizes upon the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School to escalate the polarization of America. "Gun control!" rings from their lips when a reasonable person might ask what they have been able to control lately. The deficit? No. The illegal immigration? No. Illegal drugs? No. Drunkenness? No. Dog fighting? No. Their bladders? Possibly. So, to cover their own ineffectiveness as they lead the Government ever deeper into the fiscal tar-pit, they will trot out proven failures with a new polish along with even more brilliant insanities to dazzle our minds while the tar absorbs us.

If the American public chooses not to be duped "one more time", it might insist that members of Congress demonstrate that they can, indeed, at least control their bladders. With that issue settled and with the confidence it would instil, they could then proceed to one of the more substantial control issues already on their plate. However, only in the unlikely event that they successfully complete their existing challenges should they be permitted to add new ones.