Thursday, April 26, 2007

Only criminals need a handgun in this country

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After the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech, everyone everywhere is asking what could have been done to prevent it. The answer is simple. Outlaw handguns.

Had the crazed murderer not had easy access to two handguns, then this incident probably would not have happened. He certainly would not have been able to make his way across the campus openly carrying two loaded rifles or shotguns.

Besides, can anyone give me one good reason why people should have handguns, not to mention fully automatic weapons, assault rifles, dum-dum and armor piercing bullets, or large multiple round clips? Why?

The NRA and other defenders of firearms say, ‘‘for personal defense and protection.” It’s doubtful to me that handguns account for more than a few dozen actual incidences of self-protection or self-defense each year. Meanwhile, thousands of innocents and police officers are maimed, wounded, murdered, or killed by handguns each and every year either by criminals, incensed domestic disputes and murder, or by senseless accidents.

Dozens of young children are among these victims each year and oftentimes at the hands of their own parent’s firearms, usually handguns.

The NRA would say that if we outlaw handguns, then only the criminals would have them. Well, my answer to them is that most handguns used by criminals are either fraudulently purchased or stolen from legitimate gun-owning, private law-abiding citizen households.

Either way, by outlawing handguns, the number of handguns possessed and used by common criminals would soon dry up or be prohibitively expensive for common criminals, or high school students (Columbine), or college students (Virginia Tech), or milkmen (Amish little girls) to afford.

We’re not talking about organized crime here. Organized crime does not kill 32 college students.

So the next time someone says, ‘‘What can we do to prevent these tragedies in the future?” My answer is simple: outlaw handguns and assault riffles.

Marc C. Stephens, Frederick