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Posted at 9:50 PM ET, 09/20/2010

The real tragedy in three gun crimes

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Gary Ambridge
Bel Air, Md.

What do these three stories in the Sept. 17 Metro section have in common? “2 killed in standoff at Baltimore hospital,” “Hostages detail standoff at Discovery building” and “Wife gets 8 years in D.C. killing.”

All stemmed from apparently unstable people having access to guns. The Post’s editors missed an excellent opportunity to focus on the real tragedy in these stories: Guns kill people when they are in the hands of unstable people.

Can we forget the tragedy of Virginia Tech? When will we as a society obtain the courage to stand up to the death industry and legislate real gun reform?

By washingtonpost.com editors  | September 20, 2010; 9:50 PM ET
Categories:  Baltimore, HotTopic, Maryland, guns  
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Comments

Uh, maybe the editors should read the stories before jumping to preconceived conclusions?

The tattoo parlor lady shot her husband with an illegally owned gun - breaking a whole host of laws in the process. "Just One More Law" would not have changed things.

The Discovery Channel guy didn't have a real gun, he had a starter pistol that only shoots caps or blanks. He did die by gunfire - from a SWAT team. Is it the Post Ed Board's position that SWAT team members are unstable and shouldn't have access to guns?

Posted by: k_romulus | September 21, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Laws do not prevent criminals or mentally ill people from acquiring guns. If they did there would be no gun crime. I don't picture gangs running around with slingshots no matter what the law says, and the article fails to specify just what is meant by real gun reform. Usually it means "Let's trash the 2nd Amendment!" Bad idea.
I favor mandatory, lengthy prison sentences for any person who uses a firearm in commission of a crime, even if they don't fire a shot, but I suppose that's too sensible.

Posted by: meand2 | September 21, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

True, criminals and unstable people can find ways to get guns despite laws against it, but it would be much harder for this to occur if the US were not drowning in weapons. These kinds of crimes are much rarer in Europe and other places where gun ownership is much more tightly controlled. This is no longer the frontier and we do not need to have a gun in every home to help maintain a state militia. And no rational person I would support people having military weapons in their home that would make the concept viable in any case. There are many loopholes in our gun ownership laws from state to state regarding background checks and waiting periods, the most notable is the lack of background checks at gun shows. Life in the inner city is not life in Iowa.

Posted by: stevenasmith | September 21, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

As many readers surely know, in Switzerland citizens do in fact keep military weapons in their homes. But crimes committed with such weapons are few are far between. In Switzerland, as in Finland and a few other European countries, the safe and proper possession of firearms is inculcated as a citizen's civic duty, not merely a right. The focus there is properly on educating the person, not banning the instrument. I'm sure that concept could work here in the U.S. too. But first we must avoid being distracted by the red herring that the culprit in gun crimes is the gun, when in fact it's the lack of civic maturity and responsibility in many of our citizens that leads to irresponsible use of this and other Constitutional rights. Instead of throwing law after reactive law at this failure, let's focus on preventing the problem by developing responsible citizenship.

Posted by: Quaesitum | September 21, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

As most readers are aware, Switzerland is a unique situation. Not every country can or should copy their system. They are the the exception rather than the rule. Currently, we have effectively unrestricted gun access because certain states provide that access through their lax laws and oversight of dealers and gun shows, circumventing other states efforts to restrict access. But this debate will go on and on because people on each side have a very different view of how they want our society structured. Each calls the other side names, when in fact, in good faith, both sides just want different things. We simply do not want to live in the same country.

Posted by: stevenasmith | September 21, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

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