GUEST COMMENTARY: Gun owners bear responsibility, need accountability

Thursday, December 20, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

When I was in school, I remember hearing this particular phrase on a number of occasions: “You’ll ruin it for all of us.” Whatever it was I was doing, I was being policed by a group of peers with whom I shared a privilege. This in-group of peers understood that abuse of power would lead to consequences, namely, the loss of that power.

To my gun-owning friends, all you good, responsible people who have provided me the deer that is in my freezer and the sense of protection I felt that one day in the Styx when you informed me you were loaded, people, stop whining. Newtown happened.

Somebody ruined it for everybody.

Gun owners, you should have acknowledged this long ago and you should have all, by now, come up with a way of demonstrating your commitment to preserving a right to bear arms that involves holding one another more accountable. By now, you should have come up with a way to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.

Just one of you should have walked into the street and broken your assault rifle over your knee. It’s not in anger that I’m writing this. Truly, it’s born from confusion. It’s as if owners of fast-shooting guns are in a fraternity. In fact, it’s beyond that – it’s evangelical. Nothing should be sacrosanct, ever.

I wonder – if someone were to hold a dozen kids hostage at gunpoint and demand that you turn over some of your guns, would you? I shudder to think you wouldn’t.

You have not given an inch. Your attitude toward those of us who don’t own guns and think the system needs reform is childish and reactionary. How many people have to die before you give your first inch? Twenty-seven more dead in Connecticut equals at least 60-something lives destroyed. I’d say that’s a conservative estimate. I’d say those 60-something people would be on the side of some kind of reforms.

When will you ask how you can help us with ideas? Quit being as rebellious as pubescent teenagers, saying that it’s not your problem. It’s all of our problem. You, gun owner, just happen to be in a place where you’re more able to help. I'm not sure what we can do better – I've never gone through the process of buying a gun before.

The rapidity and rabidity of your reaction is disappointing. You say this has nothing to do with guns and everything to do with mental health, but that’s a stupid dichotomy to draw. It’s obviously both.

Your reluctance to actively participate in making the gun culture in this country safer has to end. It’s time to hold yourself more accountable. When it comes right down to it, hearing gun owners defend themselves before there was even a chance to take a deep breath gives the impression of shiftiness. Do you feel guilty? Would it be the end of the world if you did?

Elliot Reed is fiction writer now living in Portland, Ore. He is a graduate of Rock Bridge High School and MU and is the son of Missourian editor Katherine Reed.


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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 9:59 a.m.

So now we have the "reasonable" approach.

Uh-uh, dude. That won't work. After decades of rabid anti-gun rhetoric from folks like you...year after year after have NO cause to blame gun owners for their recalcitrance. This is a camel/nose/tent issue and folks like you have been poking your nose into every corner of said tent, looking for an opening. You blame the tool, not the people you helped create with your permissive, non-refereed liberalism. wish to hinder that tool as if that will solve anything.

No sale.

You ruined it for all of us.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2012 | 12:18 p.m.

"You ruined it for all of us." The absolute truth. This writer can't consider that the liberal, legal, changes regarding the mentally ill and their "individual rights" have made it near impossible to legally force an individual to the medically recommended prescriptions that can keep them on the path of sanity. Or that the Va Tec, as well as this latest shooter were diagnosed for mental problems and neither were restricted in way regarding their medication, much less any physical containment.

It's more fun,I suppose, to concoct a piece blaming the old enemy, conservative gun owners, than to push anything that might actually prevent occurrences of such horror.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 2:34 p.m.

It's useless, Elliot. They're intractable, irrational and shameless.

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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 3:15 p.m.

Gee, thanks Tracy.

Merry Christmas to you, too.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 3:29 p.m.

Save your wishes for the families of the kiddos in Newtown.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 4:17 p.m.

Tracy: I've already done a lot more than "wish".

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Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 4:23 p.m.

Atta girl Tracy. Some people can't see the forest for the trees. In a time of trgedy, it's all about me, me, me.

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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 4:40 p.m.

Tony: I agree. It IS about you. It is about your hysteria, similar to your fears of CCW and perhaps even the Mayan apocalypse.

This is simply more bear shaving...your theoretical mind says "getting the guns" solves everything, but to convince me you'll have to explain how in the hell we got from my childhood 55 years ago where NO ONE ever though of using a gun in a schoolyard argument to where we are today.

Or doing what this psycho did in Newtown.

And, you'll have to defend your own culpability.

Bear-shaving. Pure and simple.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 4:41 p.m.

Oops. The spelling police will get me. Tragedy, I meant. The right wants to cut spending for health care, education, etc, but leave my AR-15 with a 30 round clip I use for hunting deer alone. Lack of education and care for the mentally ill is what is causing these problems. I own guns. I think they should not be banned, however, other than "look at how big of a man I am because I own this gun", I see no reason for these types of semi-automatic guns. A six shooter or a 3 shell shotgun will kill any food you need. If not, you need to be a better shot. And if you need them for protection, you should quit the drug business. Or move.

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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 4:51 p.m.

A six shooter or a 3 shell shotgun will kill any food you need.

This is untrue.

I need a fishing rod, too.

I tried it with a shotgun, but all I got was wet.

PS: I see you follow the JonH method of like hell.

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Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 4:52 p.m.

Back in 1970, when I was at Jeff Junior high, we had a kid at school with a gun. Planned on using it, too, in retaliation for a fight the day before. Not afraid of CCW, either. I could have one, but I'm not that scared of anything. I have never been arrested, and my only time in court was either jury duty or divorce.

It ain't all about me Michael. It's all about you. YOU need your rights. YOU need the government out of your business. I am not hiding anything. The government can snoop on me all they want. Those kindergarteners and teachers at Sandy Hook had rights too, ya know. What do they have now? Yup, if the teacher had been armed, maybe they could have stopped him sooner. Maybe in the chaos more kids would have been killed. Who knows? Since you and Frank have all the answers, what would have happened? Since you know all about it, I would guess you have been in that position before?

(Report Comment)
Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 4:59 p.m.

I am waiting till after tomorrow to do my Christmas shopping. Thats the extent of my apocolypse planning. And I don't run. Sorry to burst your bubble.

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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 5:08 p.m.

Tony: "YOU need your rights. YOU need the government out of your business."

Absolutely correct. I agree with you because I want YOU to have the same thing.

As for the rest of your post, the other day I posted something like this (I cannot quote exactly because I am locked out of my own posts now owned by the Missourian):

We learned in WWII and with various, sundry terrorists over the years that you cannot stop a person with the element of surprise bent upon dying with their carnage or for their cause. It is not possible.

You can only reduce the damage once it starts.

I still believe this. Apparently, so does our government that spends billions of dollars each year trying to identify terrorists before they act and/or reduce their element of surprise.

That's why you and others are just bear-shaving. Your solution is nothing but wrapping paper that hides the real evil. And, because I know this...that your "solution" solves nothing but a salving of your own troubled soul...I remain what Tracy calls "intractable".

I'm neither irrational nor shameless, tho.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 5:19 p.m.

Why do you need a AR-15 or AK-47 with a 30 round clip?

(Report Comment)
Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 5:21 p.m.

And my soul isn't troubled. You are quick to judge, aren't you? Do you read my posts or just answer them with standard conservatibve answers?

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Michael Williams December 20, 2012 | 5:39 p.m.

Well, I don't have either one. I used to have an SKS with a couple of 30 rd clips. I really enjoyed shooting it at the farm and on the range. That enjoyment is reason enough, and you have no right to question that enjoyment as a "reason". The reason is sufficient in its own right. Your question is intrusive, something you should find offensive.

As far as answering with standard conservative answers, any similarity between my responses and "standard conservative" answers is merely coincidental. If "standard conservatives" do happen to agree with me, then I'd say they are on the right track.

Don't forget....I used to be a McGovern democrat. I changed for damn good reasons that didn't have anything to do with Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. "Life" changed me, and no one else.

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frank christian December 20, 2012 | 7:06 p.m.

Just wanted to mention. Tracy Gr-rice, Tony Black have written Nothing about how to stop this wanton killing of innocent people, with firearms, by Other human beings.

Tracy never even tries intelligent conversation, only dismisses those sincerely wanting it to stop as, "intractable, irrational and shameless." Mr. Black, only mouths about the previously enacted, proven ineffective, laws on certain guns and number of shells that might be loaded into them. He tells of his experience at Jeff Jr. I was there before 1960, and I never heard of anyone bringing a firearm (though everyone had access to firearms)then, or anytime in my education in Columbia, not to school nor anywhere else, that I was in attendance (several not prepared to discuss). The point is, dates for me were all before 1960. If either mentioned have not seen my reason for using that date as prime, just advise and I'll explain.

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Tony Black December 20, 2012 | 8:17 p.m.

And I was Reagan republican who changed for damn good reasons. So? So the mere fact that you are asked about your guns upsets you? Makes me real comfortable........

What do we do? Cut funding for mental health services? That isn't working so far, nor do more guns seem to help.

Sorry but done for the night. Keep the faith, Tracy.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 8:46 p.m.


Some things are too nonsensical to dignify with dialogue. A civilian arms race will not result in a 'safer' culture. Period. Never has, never will. And there are inarguable examples of modern nations that have effectively minimized both gun violence and homicide rates to virtually zero that the US pro-shootists refuse to acknowledge by sticking their cold dead fingers in their tone-deaf ears, squenching their beady little eyes up and chanting, 'I'm not listening.' over and over again.

It takes an act of willful suspension of disbelief to choose not to recognize that proven, effective policies exist to effectively manage the risk of gun violence AND the countries that use such policies are at LEAST as 'free' in terms of freedom of speech and democratic rules. Those semi-auts aren't protecting anybody from tyranny, though clearly the length and girth of the barrel and force of the spray is filling some very different kind of insecurity and fear.

Semi-aut advocates need to ask themselves this very hard question, 'Do I enjoy playing target practice with my semi-aut so much that it's okay for little tiny kids to bleed out while watching their friends suffer and die around them?' Because that was and is the choice to make.

It shocks me (& I pretty durned cynical) that people get it rationalized in their pretty little heads to run out & buy guns after a mass shooting of children (or any shooting). Seriously? That's like running out and buying as much DDT as possible before its ban because one knows the prevailing winds will blow most of the risk down onto one's neighbors - and, hey, we all die of something regardless, right???

The pro-shootists' position is like the old joke about the guy who goes in to see his doc and says 'Doctor, it hurts when I go like this.', proceeds to vigorously swing his arm back and forth from the elbow, and asks 'What should I do?' The doc Rx: 'Stop going like that.'

Qu'est-ce que c'est???

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2012 | 9:27 p.m.

Tony B. - I bet you are done for the night. Still can't write anything except liberal crap about the evil of cutting spending and disarming the American public You didn't write it and neither did TG-R, but this is what the liberal interest in firearms is all about! Why would such intelligent folks refuse to discuss any other alternative, than control of the weapon that the mentally ill have used?

I'll state again, the 2nd Amendment ain't about deer hunting! Gun sales have gone thru the roof since Obama election. Not because he is black. More specifically because of this: "THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Hitler called them the Brown Shirts. Those in communist China were referred to as the Red Guard. I don't know what those from government that hacked to death, with machetes, 400 civilians in Rwanda, were named.

Those more concerned with people and family than the recently educated liberal, know that defense for themselves and those loved, is and will be necessary, for all time. That, no government can provide that protection on a personal basis and that government, as learned by our founders, may well be the greatest threat of all. Most Americans know this. How did liberals, miss it?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 20, 2012 | 9:31 p.m.

Universal registration: This does not take anyone's guns away, just makes sure we know who, and where, so we can more easily identify illegal possession.

Required training and mental health screenings for a license, very similar to Missouri's current CCW requirements, to own "assault" weaponry (~semi- /automatic, high capacity clips): This does not take anyone's guns away - not even military-level or assault weapons. It just makes sure that those who do own them are not nutjobs, and are trained and trusted to keep them out of the hands of nutjobs.

Transaction tracking for all weapons and ammunition: This does not take away anyone's guns or bullets, it just monitors transactions so we can spot any unusual purchasing patters (i.e. sudden stockpiling) and go check on it.

Policing and law enforcement focus on investigating gun disappearances, etc., and tracking down and confiscating illegally possessed weapons: This, in fact, *does* take guns away - but only from criminals, not from the general population.

These are sensible regulations for the deadliest device* for sale to the general public. They will not take anyone's (but criminal's) guns away. They will only make sure the ownership and use of them is, to borrow a couple words from the 2nd amendment, "well regulated."


*Yes, in fact, guns are specifically designed to kill a shooter's target, and they are incredibly effective at this. Here's a rough comparison between the top three non-age-related causes of death in the US:

51 Billion pharmaceutical pills sold per year
37,000 deaths per year

3 Trillion miles traveled per year
32,000 deaths per year

10 billion bullets sold per year
32,000 deaths per year ***

These are obviously not direct apples-to-apples comparisons, but they can serve as a rough guide to estimate relative "per use" death rates.

*** Preliminary Cause of Death data for 2011 from CDC:
Suicide by firearms, 2011: 19,766
Homicide by firearms, 2011: 11,101
Accidental discharge deaths, 2011: 851
Total: 31,718 (or approx. 32,000)

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 10:00 p.m.

As I heave an irritated sigh, roll my eyes, & yawn:

Similar claims have been circulating in right-leaning blogs and conservative Web sites ever since July, when Obama made a single reference to a "civilian national security force" in a campaign speech in Colorado. Obama’s detractors make much of his expansive (and exaggerated) description of such a force as being "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the U.S. military. They also ignore the context.

Obama was not talking about a "security force" with guns or police powers. He was talking specifically about expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and the USA Freedom Corps, which is the volunteer initiative launched by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, and about increasing the number of trained Foreign Service officers who populate U.S. embassies overseas.

Here is the relevant portion of what Obama actually said, with the sentences quoted selectively by Broun and others in bold.

Obama, July 2, (2008) Colorado Springs, CO: [As] president I will expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots [from 75,000] and make that increased service a vehicle to meet national goals, like providing health care and education, saving our planet and restoring our standing in the world, so that citizens see their effort connected to a common purpose.

People of all ages, stations and skills will be asked to serve. Because when it comes to the challenges we face, the American people are not the problem – they are the answer. So we are going to send more college graduates to teach and mentor our young people. We’ll call on Americans to join an energy corps, to conduct renewable energy and environmental clean-up projects in their neighborhoods all across the country.

We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, and to be there for our military families. And we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy. We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set.

We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded. We need to use technology to connect people to service. We’ll expand USA Freedom Corps to create online networks where American can browse opportunities to volunteer. You’ll be able to search by category, time commitment and skill sets. You’ll be able to rate service opportunities, build service networks, and create your own service pages to track your hours and activities.

This will empower more Americans to craft their own service agenda and make their own change from the bottom up.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2012 | 10:13 p.m.

Tracy G-R - It seems we were writing at same time. Glad I caught you. It's almost bedtime.

First,there was no "civilian arms race", until liberals and their policies made it necessary. Read my reason above.

"there are inarguable examples of modern nations that have effectively minimized both gun violence and homicide rates to virtually zero" Name one (besides China, Cuba, etc.)and give us the rate of their other crimes,assault, home invasion, RAPE, robbery, etc., after their gun ban laws.

Aside your jokes, I have little else to add, except that while you and every other liberal writing here, has been stuck on the "stupid" of gun control, your White House has put VP Joseph Biden (god help us)as head of a committee which "will also explore ways to improve mental health resources and address ways to create a culture that doesn't promote violence." Expect little to happen in those areas, but they, as opposed to you and yours, have acknowledged the need.

Since 2008, liberal Democrats appear to be, for the average American, our worst enemy.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice December 20, 2012 | 10:32 p.m.

Frank, dude, it goes without saying that 'mental' health is just another facet of health, and it is a basic human right & dignity to have access to health care. OF COURSE, we have inadequate mental health care resources. It's a red herring to present getting rid of semi-auts (& accoutrements) and access to mental health services as dichotomous answers and solutions, the sides of a coin (as in the desire for weapons w/ no function but the taking of human life rather indicates the need for a mental health eval).

With that said, Mr. Lanza did NOT lack the financial resources to access mental or any other kind of healthcare. That is a perniciously species argument being applied to this case. Affordability and accessibility of mental health services were NOT an issue for the Lanza's like they are for the vast majority of Americans.

Lanza was from an extremely affluent family and was living with his mother in 3/4 of million dollar house when he snapped. He could have accessed health care, mental and otherwise, but that's not what his mom provided for him. Instead she turned her $750k NYC bucolic, bedroom community McMansion into a magazine.

Sometimes it's not about dollars and cents, public or private. It's about values and sense.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2012 | 10:42 p.m.

Tracy - Talk about boring? Liberals trying to explain what their leaders "really meant" is as old as that movement.

Had you heard of those of ACORN accosting bank CEO's to compel use of the lax,real estate lending rules from Clinton, Dodd, Frank? I'm not able to reconcile this, " We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set." with his other peaceful suggestions. Care to help?

"we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy." After Benghazi, isn't this somewhat of a joke? He has spent 6T+$ in four years. Identify anything in your in depth assertions, that Americans can embrace as beneficial, except the extended unemployment checks, which Nancy P. proclaimed, provide more bang for the buck, than tax cuts.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2012 | 10:44 p.m.

T GR - Still silly, see you in the morning!

(Report Comment)

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