Sunday, December 23, 2001

thoughts on guns

As odious a product as tobacco is, the giant companies are within their rights to market it if the public is stupid enough to buy it, as there are no laws or court rulings banning the sale of tobacco.

Unless someone can make such an argument against firearms, that industry is legitimate and should not be lawyered out of existence because of what some people do with firearms.

That line of thinking should mean the next class-action lawsuit is against software companies like Microsoft for not making hackerproof or virusproof software.

Two of my brothers have owned a shotgun and a few other firearms for sport purposes -- we grew up in Pennsylvania, where the first day of hunting season is a holiday from school -- but I have never had the desire to own one, even after we had a burglar here in our house a few months ago.

Why? Because while my dog can screw up and bark at someone innocent, and even knock an innocent to the ground, I can't un-injure someone I killed believing them to a burglar, nor do I want to run the risk of an accidental death resulting from my weapon.

I think there is a perceived bias against guns in the media because a death or injury resulting from guns is more likely to make the news than nothing happening at all. On the other hand, if when I was editor of the Beacon, someone had come up to me and said, "Why don't you do a feature story on this rifle range down on Amwell Road?" or "Hey, I have a great idea for a story on this fellow who collects guns," I would have been all over it. As it is, no one suggested that idea until after I had left, and so we never did such a story. That's where gun-rights advocates need to be more proactive.

I think there is some bias against the gun culture in the news media because of what we've seen. Interview enough parents of children who died after being shot, and you might start to think that way too. Most journalists, however, would have the same approach as me: I might have a blind spot on a certain story, but if you can suggest an idea that expands my horizon, I'm all for it.

9/11 didn't really affect my position on the issue at all, since guns weren't the weapon of choice: box-cutters and airplanes were. Have to admit I'm glad to know that there are more federal marshals in the air, though I think it would be better if the airlines themselves put such marksmen on every flight instead of the federal crapshoot we have now.

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