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The need for guns

I grew up with guns. I owned a 22 pistol, and I was a good shot. My grandpa had a large frog pond, so I spent summers plinking frogs. When the top of their heads rose above the water, I would shoot them between the eyes, and Grandma would fix frog legs for dinner.

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, I was walking on a dark street when three young men recognized I was American. One of them shoved a pistol into my stomach, and said, "You damn gringo, I'm going to kill you."

Of course I was terrified, but in that split second I instinctively responded with a smile, and replied, "Come on, let me buy you guys a drink."

My assailant was disarmed by my response and put the gun away. In a nearby bar, we bought each other drinks and parted friends - handshakes all around.

If I had carried a gun and had tried to reach for it, he would have shot me. Of course, he expected me to beg for my life. By responding with a smile, I defused his threat.

In 2010 there were 12,996 murders in the US, 8775 by firearms. While some of the firearm murders would have taken place anyway, there is surely no question that if firearms were banned there would be fewer actual murders.

Of course this is utopian. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is in the Constitution because the colonists recognized the need for a citizen militia to prevent a seizure of power.

In the 18th century, a well-regulated militia needed only muzzle-loading muskets and rifles. The Minutemen were more than a match for British regulars because they used better weapons and hunted deer with them (and maybe frogs).

Since regular military units today have a far more varied arsenal, a case can be made that citizens need the right to bear AR-15s, Glocks, machine guns, bazookas, tanks, and even ground-to-air missiles. But according to the Second Amendment the purpose of such weapons is for a well-regulated militia.

The Second Amendment does not authorize citizens to keep and bear arms unless they belong to a well-regulated militia.

If we can't outlaw private gun ownership because of the Second Amendment, we can enforce it. If you want to own guns, you must be a member in good standing of a well-regulated militia, and that militia must be legally responsible for your access to weapons just as regular military units are.

Don't get me wrong! If you want to plink frogs with your 22, that's just fine. But if someone pulls a gun on you, buy him a beer.


On Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac show on WXXI-FM, he read a brief piece by writer Molly Ivins that reminded me of your column ("Why Not Ban Guns?" Urban Journal):

"I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives."


Posted on

The last time I checked, gun ownership was a protected constitutional right, rather like equal rights, the right to assemble, and the right to free speech. Each of these rights has led to violence and sometimes death.

So why not suggest we end the right of free speech while we are at it? It would end all those troublesome arguments, protests, and political conventions that so often lead to violence. And that darned right to freely assemble; once again, it just leads to those violent parties, soccer games, protests, and political events that turn violent. And equal rights? Throw that out, too. After all, we've been bickering and fighting over those rights as well.

You know, you may be on to something. Just think how safe and quiet it will be if no one is armed, or free to leave their homes, or speak to each other...


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Brooks and

the taxpayers

I applaud the Democrats in the County Legislature for introducing legislation prohibiting spending taxpayer dollars on advertisements featuring county elected officials. Not long ago, I received an e-mail from my neighborhood organization announcing a number of community events in the Highland Park Bowl. The announcement stated the events were "compliments of Maggie Brooks and Monroe County."

I asked the list facilitator: In what way were the events "compliments" of Executive Brooks? Did she contribute personal funds to the events? My query was forwarded to the county but I never received an answer.

An honest statement would have said, "Park events were compliments of taxpayers." This honesty would help build a sense of community and increase our appreciation for government by showing our taxes are put to good use."

I have continued to see Brooks' name on buses, county vehicles, etc. Shameless self-promotion by politicians like Brooks is problematic; it contributes to the cynicism and alienation people feel about our government. Brooks should stop her self-promotion by attaching her name to every taxpayer-funded service and accomplishment.


Coles is a volunteer with the Louise Slaughter campaign.

Brooks and

the CSEA

It's amazing what a little paid media will do ("Brooks' Busy Week," News). Do you think it's a coincidence that the hard-working people of Monroe County are getting closer to a contract? Do you think being a Congressional candidate has anything to do with the workers getting a temporary agreement? Just sayin.

And while I'm at it, here's my two cents on the whole Brooks-Slaughter deal. Brooks is a candidate who has given her soul to the radical House GOP and now she is trying to rationalize her extreme positions to moderate Monroe County voters. She is really in a pickle.


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