In that article I said that far from making us safe, guns endanger the public health. Casual gun ownership should be actively discouraged. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center studies this and concludes in several articles that more guns equates to a higher number of gun-related deaths.
As that article aged, some took the time to post more thoughtful responses. Most of the early commenters, though, jumped in to offer typically brief, frank and personal insights expressing concern for the quality of my understanding, my political motives and my strength of intellect. Hate is not too strong a word, I don't think. These readers hated the article and hated me for writing it.
OK, fine. I concede I made a couple missteps. And in light of the ongoing controversy over guns in our society, particularly in the wake of the defeat of the Senate gun-control measure, it seems important to do more than acknowledge them. I need to be clear where, apparently, I was not.
Point taken. I am upbraided. Let the accounting begin. First of all, I seemed to support the Senate's effort to tighten background checks on gun purchasers, but then I turned around and said "Laws can't fix what we have broken." Confusing. What I should have said was, "Laws alone can't fix what we have broken." Laws are an expression of our desire for cooperation, for the common good. They are never a cure in themselves and should not be thought so.
That brings me to mea culpa No. 2, which was to imply that we had the power to turn the tables on our gun-toting history without specifying how that was to be done. Specifically, I said:
There is no inevitability. There is only culture and culture can be changed.Yet again, an error of omission. The means to accomplish this momentous task seems obvious, but by not stating it outright, I left the door open for the black-and-white crowd, who believe any attempt to reduce gun violence will bring an ATF officer knocking at the door.