Clarity can be a long time coming. I've been writing columns on gun violence for nearly 20 years, lately slipping into a kind of exhausted hopelessness, just like our politicians and public.
Not that it'll be easy. We're up against impassioned believers such as in the exchange below. But education doesn't need Congressional approval. It doesn't require laws to be changed. The truth is out there. It'll take a long time, but it's a way to start.
In the meantime, this is just one thread in the mass of response I got yesterday. The emails are quite long, but they'll give you a sense of things, and if you lose patience, skip to the end as the last one is a welcome surprise. There is hope. It'll take a long time. But in the end, Americans solve their problems.
Not really sure if you'll even read this email, but I am writing to briefly show you the other side of the coin after reading your rather narrow sighted partisan article on the so called "gun crisis". You liberals act as though people that support gun rights area bunch poorly educated redneck hillbillies who want to shoot everything. Nothing could be further from the truth and chances are the gun that was used by that 6 year old boy to shoot the 3 year old boy was not obtained or owned legally. The fact is all the gun control measures that liberals propose, which no doubt are stepping stones to a mass government seizure of guns that obama advocates citing Australia and Great Britain successes, will only succeed in disarming law abiding responsible people. The bad guys who use the guns to commit the crimes you cite in the stats will still get guns and still commit gun crime. The difference is, if you liberals ever get your way, that the criminals will know that no one can defend themselves and it will therefore increase, as it does when they know they are in a gun free zone. Notice no one walks into a shooting range to commit a mass shooting, it happens in known gun free zones. Liberal policies keep our southern boarder wide open where drugs, guns and criminals flood across daily. The drugs lead to gangs, who use the guns in the hands of the criminals to commit gun crime. So as long as you liberals and your policies keep us in danger, we will fight for our rights to defend our families. Australia can get all the guns off of their streets because they respect their own sovereignty and don't have illegal drugs, guns and criminals flooding into their country. And by the way calling Ben Carson idiotic is really one of those "I know more than you" liberal statements that show an inability to shed the brainwashing all liberals seem to have gone through. Maybe if you and your children had been marched onto a train by a bunch of armed nazis you would have appreciated having a gun and a chance to defend your family instead of walking quietly into a gas chamber. Maybe one family could not fight them all off, but every family working together could have had a chance to prevent something like that, why else would hitler have started out by disarming the country if it would have made no difference. Besides I would have rather died fighting for my family rather than walking quietly to our deaths. And really?????? citing the French as an example of why guns wouldn't have helped, that is idiotic, haven't you ever heard of the French rifle for sale........good condition, never fired, dropped once. Doubt you have open mind enough to consider any other points of view, liberals rarely do, but food for thought. If you read it thanks for reading it, if not I'm not surprised. Craig
Well, I tried to read your email, but you seem to be responding, not to what I wrote, but to your own general biases about "liberals." I think people should be educated about how dangerous guns are. You, I take it, do not. You imagine that you would have fought off the Nazis with your guns. Of course you do. As I point out, gun advocates are so passionate because they are people lost in fantasy. Generally, I try not to cross a man's fantasies. But in this case, it's too important. Ben Carson is an ahistorical idiot, and you are carrying water for an idiot, which strikes me as something worse. Still, thanks for writing.
As I expected you do not have an open mind to others points of view, and nothing in what I said states that I do not believe people should be educated on the dangers of guns or that I did not respond to your article and you are wrong on both counts. I believe that in the hands of a well trained person who owns and maintains a firearm is not dangerous. Guns are dangerous in the hands of reckless criminals who fully intend to use them for evil. The laws and restrictions proposed by liberal politicians would do absolutely nothing to change that, because criminals do not abide by laws and the point of our wide open southern boarder, highlights the fact that illegal guns will be readily available on our streets and in the hands of criminals. A car can be dangerous and have the same effect as guns in the hands of reckless and lawless people, like drunk drivers who kill innocent people all the time, but there is no liberal agenda to ban cars. Responsible gun owners are educated and trained to handle firearms safely, just like responsible drivers. As someone who has likely never owned or operated a firearm I highly doubt you should be a source of reference on how a person trained to use firearms would react. I have had the unfortunate experience of having someone break into my house while my family was asleep. I grabbed my 12 gauge and engaged it where the intruder could hear it and the sound of my 12 gauge shotgun sent him running, and had it not and he proceeded any further into my house he would have gotten a full 12 gauge round square in the chest, because my family comes first. Sorry if yours does not and I feel sorry for you that you don't think enough of yourself to have the ability to defend your family by any means necessary, besides would you have a problem with someone beating an intruder down with a bat, what is the difference? The real fantasy is that someone who has never owned, been trained on or even seen a real firearm has any idea what someone who has fired one many times and is well trained to use one would do. Your narrow minded thought process is imagining yourself in that situation knowing you have no idea what your doing or talking about and therefore would be unable to use it. The fact is that firearms are used by citizens across the country everyday to defend their homes and families, but the media will not report on it. I'm sorry but you come across as an angry liberal who has no idea about the subject he is rallying against and sounds out of his league talking about it. Why did hitler disarm germany if it would have made no difference and no I'm not saying I would have single handedly fought off the nazis, but I am saying I would rather die defending myself than marched quietly without a whimper, and you who has never fired a gun can not say what I who has fired one thousands upon thousands of times, and is well trained to use one without fear and with tremendous respect would do, you are the one who lives in a fantasy.
Hmmm, I should probably not respond. Because it's a waste of time, at least for me. But you're just making stuff up, because it sounds right to you. For instance, you write, "You who has never fired a gun."
What makes you say that? Attached is a photo of me firing a gun, at the FBI range in North Chicago. I have fired many guns. Another one of those facts that you might have trouble wrapping your head around.
It isn't my job to fix the world, person by person. And yet, it's hard to see such a bolus of delusion and not reply.
One more thing -- really, responding to you is like eating candy; it's hard to stop. When you refer to a "liberal agenda to ban guns," that's another hallucination. Seven years of Obama has lead to absolutely nothing on the gun front. Not only aren't liberal changing gun laws, we don't even have hope that gun laws might be changed.
But I'm just curious. Can you really not perceive that? Thanks for writing; answer my question if you can.
I assumed that would be the end, but there was one more email, which just goes to show, if you treat people with respect, they do begin to come around, sometimes.
Rest assured it is not a waste of time to respond to my emails, your article has generated a healthy civil debate between two people who don't know each other and have opposing views, but may be able to find common ground in the end. I want to start by thanking you profusely for responding at all, I have a ton of respect for that. I have written to other writers and have never received a response, I guess that's why I didn't expect to get a response in the first place. Secondly I guess that I came out "guns blazing" (no pun intended) because I thought I had one chance to say it all and that would be it, because I did not expect to get additional responses, and for that I am again very grateful as well. Now you are absolutely right, I should not have assumed that you have never fired a gun, I do apologize for that, that is not typical of me and I was wrong. I guess that would be rooted somewhere from the fact that most of the people I know in life being from Chicago are in fact liberal (yeah I know big surprise) and we of course get in heated political debates because we are all political junkies, but are also in the end all good friends and although I am outnumbered I love and respect them all as friends and wouldn't change a thing about them. And in those debates I find them to be often angry and passionate about their various causes, as am I. In particular though when it comes to the gun debate, the people I often debate have never seen a live firearm let alone used one and often have no idea what they are talking about, and so to answer your question, I guess I made an incorrect assumption that anyone against guns has never been trained to use them, and for that I do again apologize. Clearly you have had some training so will you not at least concede that people who are properly trained and know how responsibly own and maintain a firearm, should be allowed to continue to do so. I am particularly sensitive to that because my family was in fact saved by my firearm and I don't want to think of the things that could have happened if I didn't have it, I get overly sensitive and I say things I don't mean on this subject because of that experience in my life and I am also sorry about the other things I said about you defending yourself and your family, also very out of character for me and I apologize. I have three beautiful daughters that I do not want see become a crime statistic. It just seems to me that the policies put forward by the left target (again no pun intended) responsible law abiding gun owners rather than the illegal guns that are responsible for the horrible crimes we see. I see liberal political pundits portray conservatives raving lunatics who want to shoot children and in fact the exact opposite is true. I also feel very strongly that obama's boarder policy has opened up out streets to even greater amounts of illegal drugs, guns and gangs all in the name of getting votes. And his response is to target law abiding people. You must concede I have a point. Something else you should know about me is that I am not a raving right wing lunatic, I am a physician and surgeon and I specialize in limb salvage surgery. I work hard to prevent amputations, in mainly patients with PVD and diabetes, but it unfortunately also puts me on the front line of the other end of the "illegal gun problem". I am a patriot who loves this country and everyone in it, my brother served in Iraq and I always try to be a good person who does the right thing. I don't think you wasted any time in writing to me and I really am thankful that you have. You may not have changed mind on the gun debate, but you have reminded me not to make assumptions about people, which is something I do pride myself on, so thank you and you can hang your hat on that. I hope that maybe you can see that there is more to the gun debate and that people like me are just as saddened and horrified by the illegal gun violence these days in America, especially in our great city of Chicago, it hurts inside because I love this city so much, to see what is happening here. We just disagree on the cause and solution. Maybe a better title of your editorial would be "Case symbolic of U.S. illegal gun crisis" and that would get some attention on both sides of the isle. I am glad you choose to engage me on this topic and hopefully we are both learning something. One of these days both sides have to figure out how to come together because the country is becoming more and more divided and it isn't good for us. I have to say I have a ton of respect for you and will now be a regular reader of your work.
Well, that's more like it. Remember, I'm not suggesting we change laws at all. Just that we educate people as to the risks so they can make their own decisions.
I thought I might post our exchange on my blog. Would you feel ill-used if I did that?