Your neighbors don't benefit from your sense of strength. They only fear you. Fear fractures community. They do benefit from your peace of mind. Promoting peace of mind brings communities together.

As I pointed out in my article last year on this subject, we, as a nation, can't defend our right to amass stockpiles of weapons while we also have high rates of gun deaths.

So why are we trying? Where's the upside?

As illustrated by the deaths of children each year all over the country from accidental gunshots, a gun in the house keeps no one safe. A gun in the house threatens everyone in proximity.

And please, spare me the "swimming pool" argument that gun rights propagandists toss out: Children die in swimming pools; we're not going to make those illegal! That's a completely false analogy. Swimming pools aren't designed to kill. They can't be picked up and carried into a movie theater and used to drown a handful of strangers. No one is suggesting lining the halls of elementary schools with watery graves. Wal-Mart isn't selling extra-lethal water you can use to kill swimmers more reliably.

If you can't extend trust to your neighbors, to your community, then at least take more sensible precautions. Don't threaten them. There are better ways to protect your family.

Buy an alarm system. Have everyone in your household take self-defense classes. Give each member a cellphone programmed with a handful of local emergency contacts on speed dial. Get a dog. Build a fence. Build a moat and a drawbridge and an electrified fence if it will make you happy.

Anything would be better than a gun.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park.

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