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home : opinions : letters to the editor   August 23, 2016

6/25/2014 9:48:00 AM
Letters to the editor: It's not the gun that does the harm

It seems at least once or twice a week the newspapers expose us to an editorial cartoon depicting the “evils” and “horrors” of firearms and/or gun owners, but let’s face reality. 

My home contains a smoke detector a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. I hope that I never have to use any of them, but it is comforting knowing they are there and can be put to use if needed. 

I made a conscious decision to research them and purchase size and quantities.  I felt appropriate for my circumstances.

I trained myself in their use and operation.

I am aware of the fact that if you eat the radioactive pellet in a smoke detector it may make you ill and that the use of a tourniquet in and of itself can cause problems, especially if applied around the neck. I am also aware that the chemicals in a fire extinguisher can cause eye irritation and respiratory complications similar to those of an actual house fire.

In spite of all these dangers I chose to purchase these items anyway because I believe their presence contributes to my family’s safety. 

Why is a firearm any different?  It is simply a tool, which like most tools if used improperly can cause harm.

A hammer, a saw, a screwdriver; they are all lethal weapons when in the hands of a criminal or mentally disturbed individual seeking to do harm.

The automobile in my garage is capable of carnage if driven through a park or schoolyard, but we see no cartoons illustrating the evils of their ownership; I can purchase a dozen Pinto’s or Studebakers if I so desire.  I can even transfer ownership to someone that has no license. 

If we wish to stop the violence, let’s go after the real causes: criminals who disdain all laws, un-medicated mentally unbalanced people who can be controlled or helped only after they do harm, the internet with its social media and cyber-bullying, absent or uninvolved parents producing generation of spoiled brats, the declining presence of religion in everyday life, and top of the list, violent video games and movies desensitizing our youth by immersing them in a morally bankrupt fantasy world with reset button that undoes harm. 

My gun harmed no one so far this week. 

Michael Skowera,

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014
Article comment by: ronwood61

Fosterbw99 appears to be intelligent but has a reading problem since he credits me with saying things I did not say. Where did I say that people who commit crimes are not responsible for that crime and that possession of a gun “compels” a person to commit violence? I do not see that in my letter anywhere. Of course the person committing a crime is responsible for their actions, but I would like to see that it is difficult for them to do it with a gun. And I realize we will always have gun violence, but there must be ways to reduce it that I have not seen him propose.
And my statement about converting a semi to a full automatic was not a “falsehood” as I know 2 men (not in Illinois) who have done it with one telling me he got his “kit” from an add in his NRA magazine. And he wants me to “learn about guns”? And after I have been a hunter since I was first taught by my father at the age of 12 and own guns to today. This has nothing to do with his or my guns, it is trying to find ways to reduce gun deaths since we have the largest rates per capita in the world outside war zones.
And 4bobux added his points, one being the “PERSON does the harm while USING a gun”. Of course, but how do we make it difficult him to do his harm with a gun? It is hard to kill more that one or two with the other “tools” mentioned except with a car, and we test people and make them get insurance to drive. Should we make gun owners have to buy insurance at the point they buy a gun? And I know of the HIPAA law, plus many of the newer ones similar to it. Laws can be passed and they can also be changed,
We had 32,351 gun deaths in the last verifiable year according to Federal Gun Violence Statistics. These include crime, domestic disputes, and suicides (which are nearly2/3 of gun deaths). How many suicides would be not happen were a firearm not right there? The 5 highest gun death states per capita are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana. They have a few things in common such as lax gun laws and high rates of gun ownership:
Louisiana – 45.6% of homes have guns – 19 gun deaths per 100,000 per year.
Mississippi – 54.3% of homes have guns – 2nd behind Louisiana in gun deaths.
Alaska – 60.6% of homes have guns – high suicide and violent crime rates.
Wyoming – 62.8% of homes have guns – 2nd highest suicide rate on country.
Montana – 61.4% of homes have guns – 1st in suicide rates.
The lowest gun death states are Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey who have strong gun laws and much lower rates of gun ownership.
There are hoards of people out there with differing views on how to reduce our gun deaths and they need to be debated. Rather than throw their hands up and accept what we have sounds like another Sandy Hook will happen. Nationwide the gun death rate was 10.38 per 100,000 in that last verifiable year (2011), which was UP from 2010. Australia, a nation which loves it’s hunting, passed new laws after a school mass shooting and now has .86 gun deaths per 100,000. Maybe we could learn from what other countries that do not confiscate guns have done.

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Article comment by: fosterbw99

Ronwood, In my haste, I neglected to correct one falsehood you are trying to perpetuate regarding the conversion of a semiautomatic firearm to a full automatic firearm. This is not legal. Therefore, “conversion kits” to “full automatic” are not advertised in any legal publication. There are many illegal things that can be done with legal objects. If you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to read about the National Firearms act of 1935. Better yet, I’m willing to bet you have a friend or family member that is a gun owner and enjoys shooting. Ask them to take you to the range this weekend so you can learn guns firsthand.

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Article comment by: 4bobux

Ron, Ron, Ron. You just don't get it, do you? As you quote the article about "It's not the gun that does the harm", you seem to fail to understand it's basic INTENDED meaning. It means that some PERSON does the harm while USING a gun. That gun they used is simply a tool to cause harm, just as the hammer they could have struck someone with is simply a TOOL. Just because it was a gun being used does not mean that guns should be banished from the face of the earth. Yes, people are killed with guns quite often. People are killed by cars as well. Knives, "blunt objects", beatings, and other various means are also used to kill people. The whole point of the article was to say that there needs to be something done to prevent these crimes in the first place. Not by removing one of the tools used to commit the crime, but by doing something to the PERSON committing the crime. People yell and scream that this or that "sick and demented" person should have been known about, and that they should never have been allowed to buy a gun. Well, have you ever heard of the HIPAA law? It prevents medical information from being shared. Therefore, even if someone would have been seeing a professional and was diagnosed as being mentally unstable that information could not be used. That means when that person fills out the proper forms when buying a gun it is completely up to them if they answer the questions truthfully or not. Nobody would know the difference. Myself, I feel this part needs to be changed. How it's done is above my pay grade. Also, proper ENFORCEMENT of our current laws would help immensely. Don't let gang-bangers back out on the streets to pick up right where they left off. Lock their sorry butts up. Crowded prisons? Build more, reopen closed prisons, etc... Put people to work and stimulate the economy. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. So, really, folks should lighten up on the "evil gun" talk and start thinking about the evil PEOPLE using them. Using them illegally in most cases, by the way. More laws mean nothing to a criminal.

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Article comment by: fosterbw99

Mr. Ronwood61:
I’ll let somebody else continue this debate. Maybe they can talk some sense into you. But I will end this debate by stating that based on everything you have stated it is your sincere belief that people are not responsible for crime. Somehow, based on what I’m reading, you believe that possession of a gun somehow compels a person to commit violence. Therefore, your answer is to take the gun away from everyone. This makes as much sense as taking cars away from everyone because it is possible for them to drink and drive. Furthermore, there is no gun law that can ever be passed that would prevent future shootings.

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Article comment by: ronwood61

Fosterbw99 continues to mix apples and oranges commenting on items not mentioned by me. So I will become as long winded as he. He goes on about “violent” crimes but most FBI violent crimes are not murder, so why is it even in this discussion? Also, many of those arrested for murder were stalkers and domestic abusers who had complaints/reports filed against them but were still able to buy the guns they killed with. Most robbers in this “violent” crime category use a gun so their victims will obey them so they rarely kill.
Illinois may have tough laws to legally obtain a gun but do all of the other states? And the “gun show loophole” might be a “myth” in Illinois but my gun loving buddy in Texas says anybody can go into a gun show there and walk out with a gun, including semi-automatics. He also tells me kits can easily be purchased to convert an AR15 from semi to full automatic, some at the same gun show but ads for these are in the NRA magazine. I am glad Illinois makes it so difficult to obtain a gun and I am sure that was the reason there were only 27 people3 shot in Chicago last Friday and Saturday.
His statement that murder rates have fallen 50% since 1991 is misleading as 1995 was +5% above 1986 and 2011 was 50% below 1995, but 2012 was up from 2011. This number bounces up and down and he picks 1991 and compares it to 2011 while ignoring all between. And the FBI website I found said nothing about having more than 4 victims to be classed a “mass” shooting. Over 70% of all murders are currently committed with guns. January this year Leonard Harris Jr. killed 2 and wounded 2 others in Rock Falls, Illinois, but more people are usually wounded during mass shootings than killed. And would you not consider the recent Las Vegas shooting where 2 policemen and a civilian were killed as a mass shooting? And the only thing to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun? Those 2 policemen had guns! Most multiple shootings involved wounding more than one with the shooter going unknown according to the FBI.
From the FBI statistics on school shootings: 1990 to 1999 had 73 deaths and 113 wounded. 2000 to 2009 had 92 deaths and 119 wounded. 2010 to 2014 to date (only ½ the time) has 102 deaths with 112 kids wounded.
And fosterbw99 claims my question to him about whether he prefers facing a gun or a knife “is not relevant”. That is not answering my question. And the original letter from Mr. Skowera was titled “It’s not the gun that does the harm”, but I ask him if the same killers had not had that gun would the same number of people have died?

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