Published December 23. 2012 4:00AM
Irony. That is the word that comes to mind after being labeled a "Second Amendment fanatic" by this newspaper in its Dec. 18 editorial, "At last, taking aim at assault weapons." Of course fanaticism is when you are so adamant about your belief there is no room for hearing the other person's belief. The Day's editorial rant against private gun ownership was the definition of being fanatic.
Now, as a life member of the NRA, I am indeed an advocate of gun ownership for private, law-abiding citizens. But that by no means makes me any less amenable to reasonable restrictions on that right. After this unbelievable tragedy, everything should be on the table for discussion, but the dialog should be an unemotional look at options that serve to make us truly safer, and the causal effects of all factors, not just a knee-jerk, feel-good reaction. Most reprehensible is the seizing of this tragedy to further personal agendas.
As to the "specious" argument that we Second Amendment advocates make - that guns actually protect us - all I can say is, "Wow!" Emotions shouldn't overcome the facts, ever. Even using gun control advocate studies, the lowest of which cites 700,000 times per year that guns are used in self-defense scenarios, that is a staggering number of times weapons serve a useful purpose. Another interesting statistic is that you are more likely to be killed by a drunk driver by a two-to-one ratio over being the victim of gun violence. If you factor in legal, registered firearms used by legal, licensed owners, the percentage goes down to near zero.
We as a society have allowed a culture of violence to develop in this country that ranges from homes with violent video games to inner-city youths who genuinely believe that carrying a gun is a badge of honor. I wasn't so sure there was a correlation between these games and changes in behavior in kids until a deployment showed me the desensitization and callous indifference these soldiers had to death and suffering around them. Great kids, but just emotionally disconnected, even when confronted with scenes reminiscent of this tragedy.
This newspaper rails against gun violence but remained silent when the systematic release of criminals began under this Connecticut administration. If you want the end of gun violence, it is simple. Add 10 years to any sentence just for carrying a gun, no parole. Life for commission of any crime involving a gun, no parole. I guarantee carrying a gun and using it won't be so cool anymore.
Lost in your editorial was any mention of the death penalty. Has anyone considered what would have occurred had this troubled young man surrendered to police instead of choosing suicide? Are all of you death penalty opponents so sure now that there are absolutely no crimes that warrant the death penalty?
Lastly, I respect the opinion of those who choose not to arm themselves for personal protection. Please try to respect me for choosing not to be a victim. We don't have to look too far to see that violence can visit us on the street, or at home. Anytime, anywhere - see Matthew Chew and the Petit family. Yes, it is unlikely, but it does happen. A firearm is the only answer to deadly force, period. For those who put their faith in 911, best of luck. In almost every case, the outcome is determined long before the police arrive.
Please take a moment, be respectful to each other, and work together to learn the lessons from this tragedy without disparaging each other. That divisiveness is what is tearing our great country apart, and this newspaper missed a great opportunity to be the catalyst for meaningful change by launching a personal attack.
William Melanson lives in Ledyard.