Citizens with guns do deter criminals
Stabroek News
October 31, 2001

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Dear Editor,

Mr. M. Yhap has written another letter (October 29) full of fuzzy thinking and misinformation about gun ownership and crime.

Mr. Yhap worries that "bearing arms" may not be "an extension to the basic right to self-preservation." He recognizes that the situation in Guyana "is unsafe for citizens", but he suggests the proper response is, " temporarily cedes one's rights for the preservation of life itself, and moreso, for the life of the nation."

Essentially Mr. Yhap is suggesting that law-abiding citizens should not be allowed to protect themselves and their neighbours by the simple possession of firearms, that it is better for law-abiding Guyanese to give up their right to be safe in their homes so that lives can be preserved. Whose lives would those be -- the armed robbers? If Mr. Yhap has his way, shop owners will continue to be brutalized by brazen criminals who can be confident that the law-abiding citizens don't have an effective defense. This is the path to chaos in the life of the nation.

Mr. Yhap underestimates the chilling effect that an armed citizenry has on criminal activity. No criminal wants to kick down a door in the middle of the night only to be met by a homeowner with a shotgun! There is real evidence in the USA that law-abiding gun ownership has this effect on criminals. There is real evidence in England, Australia, and South Africa that recent disarming of the law-abiding leads to more violence by emboldened criminals.

Mr. Yhap thinks that the solution is more and better police and other judicial system workers. No doubt there is room for improvement; however, it is not possible to delegate the right to personal self-defense to the police. The task of the police is to keep public order. In the vast majority of cases, police appear after the crime has been committed, the injury done. The ultimate responsibility for self-preservation falls to the individual who is threatened.

Finally, Mr. Yhap has offered up his fanciful "New York Model" in which he asserts that gun ownership is not permitted in New York State. This is simply not true -- it is not even close to the truth! There is no permit required to own a rifle or shotgun anywhere in New York State except in New York City. And even in New York City, a law-abiding citizen can get a permit for long-guns or even hand-guns. A basic search of the WWW will take the reader to the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association web-site.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Pristis

Ocala, Florida