Widespread ownership of handguns leads to many murders
Stabroek News
November 2, 2001

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Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the letter titled "Citizens with guns do deter criminals" (3l.l0.200l) by Mr Harry Pristis.

Sadly, Mr. Pristis ignores the Pandora's box in which the handgun is delivered. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, where handgun ownership is extremely high, criminals regularly kill their victims before robbing them to avoid the risk that they may be shot by a victim that is armed. Also ignored is the fact that the U.S. has suffered between 30,000 - 40,000 handgun deaths a year over the past decade. The even higher number of injured and permanently disabled places a bill on the health care system that strains the resources of even the world's wealthiest nation.

I'm not sure how much safer I would feel if my frequently drunk but otherwise law-abiding neighbour was in possession of a handgun. I'm not sure how much safer his wife and children would feel. Of course, we could also arm his wife and children. The pet dog would naturally have to fend for itself.

And let us not forget the extracurricular activities in U.S. schools that often involve students using other students and the odd teacher for target practice. I suppose the young rascals have to learn how to use handguns somewhere.

It's interesting to note that the U.S. National Rifle Association was adamantly opposed to the banning of plastic handguns that could not be sensed by airport metal detectors as well as the banning of "cop-killer" bullets. No wonder the U.S. National Police Association is a vocal advocate for strong handgun control.

Let's think of Mr. Pristis' ideal Guyana where every law-abiding citizen owns a handgun. Would you really feel safer walking the streets knowing that you and every other person on the street was armed?

I consider violent crime to be a major problem that requires intelligent, meaningful, concerted and aggressive action on the part of government. Widespread ownership of handguns is not the answer. A handgun is good protection if you're the only person who has one.

Yours faithfully,

Avinash Persaud