Our Aug. 23 cover on "America Under the Gun: What Must Be Done," elicited scores of passionate responses, most of them overwhelmingly in favor of gun regulation. Many U.S. readers, invoking the Second Amendment, defended the right to own guns. But others advocated gun control, for civilization's and safety's sake. "The Founding Fathers, if alive today, would endorse a right not to be shot," ventured a reader. Others shared positive results of gun regulation in their countries. Wrote one: "The right to own a gun is the right to kill."
America's Gun Debate
Congratulations on your editorial "What Must Be Done," calling for real gun control in America (Special Report, Aug. 23). Sometime, somewhere, someone is always bound to go mad. When this happens, easily available guns can catastroph- ically worsen the result. Since we can't control the incidence of madness, controlling the availability of guns is our only hope of reducing the number of meaningless massacres. What has happened in America would have happened in other countries if they had had a similarly armed population.
I live in a country where unregistered possession of guns is prohibited and where assault weapons are banned. But nobody here would ever dare say that it's a threat to our freedom or to our constitutional rights. On the contrary, we feel it preserves our freedom to walk down the street without the risk of being in the line of fire. In a civilized country, individual freedom and rights stop where the freedom of others--especially the right to live a safe life--begin.
The Second Amendment says that "a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." But since local militias are no longer necessary for American freedom, the keeping and bearing of arms should be well regulated. The Founding Fathers, had they lived today, would certainly agree to such regulation as the correct application of the Second Amendment. They'd probably endorse a "right of the people not to be shot."
Be careful how far you push gun control. When my daughters were growing up, I remember the invaluable sense of security the guns in our house provided us. We lived in a good neighborhood, but hoodlums in the city would steal cars and drive to the suburbs to rob, rape and kill. The police admitted they couldn't always protect us, so we had to be ready to protect ourselves. How else could we have done so?
Allan C. Stover
Jidda, Saudi Arabia
Unless American citizens are willing to terminate their pathological love affair with firearms; unless lawmakers, politicians, police, parents and educators are jointly prepared to view "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" for what it is, a glaring anachronism in late-20th-century civilization and a frightening symptom of cultural immaturity; unless the nation is able to face the patent contradiction between its aspiration to world leadership and the propensity for domestic violence, the "curse" of the Second Amendment will not be lifted. Internal peace will not be ensured.
Your editorial was frightening, not because of the proliferation of guns, but because of your repudiation of individual rights upon which America was founded. You've forgotten what started the American Revolution. You say "all rights have to be balanced with the need for public order." I totally disagree. Too many of our rights have already been sacrificed "for the public good" or "for the children" or whatever other bogeyman the government chooses to use.
Lake Worth, Florida
A Right to Bear Arms?
In your interview, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne Lapierre, says that a society without any guns is a "utopian society" and that we're "never going to get there" ("'I Think the Real Target Is the Second Amendment'"). …