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the real killing season begins

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, December 22, 1993.

The gun control debate has heated up again since the passage of the Brady Bill, and the NRA and its remoras have attained a note that both whines like their products and tries to soothe like the snake charmer. Their most trusted debate tactic is to avoid exact syllogism and confuse the easily confused media, who’ll print or show anything without research, provided they have an opinion on the topic uttered by someone.

For example, this morning on CBS, a Miami gun store owner kept substituting "a hundred and four thousand" licensed gun carriers in Florida in any discussion about the safety of handguns for the general public, which was what the interviewer kept repeating. For example, the host queried whether or not the general public would be safer armed, and the gun dealer said that of course because the licensed gun carriers were. I don't know, and nobody asked, if police and other officials are included in the 104k Floridians legally allowed to carry guns. The terms licensed and trained are used by the gun lobby to mean non-greedy, competent, combat experienced, and intelligent. Clearly this is rubbish.

Let's divide the so called good citizens - a favorite NRA term, because it is meaningless and sounds affectionate - between those actually under threat and in need of a gun at all times, and the average Joe in his home. Well, lets eliminate the licensed gun carriers and assume they know what they are doing and how. The general public still doesn't need a handgun. They need a 30-30 rifle or a 12 gauge. That’s what would protect their home most effectively. And safely. Because it is a hell of lot easier for a four year old child to shoot a pistol, one he found loaded on the bedside table than to shoot the hunting rifle. It’s a lot harder for a drunken husband or wife to grab a four foot single shot than a revolver kept in the bathrobe for the scheduled drunken fight. The vast majority of deaths by guns, especially handguns, are in the home, by accident committed within families of the good citizens.

Depressing. But what’s more depressing yet is that the vast majority of this year's murders and accidental deaths will take place within the next ten days. Christmas and New Years do that.

On CBS this morning, the gun store owner stated unequivocally that a typical good citizen with a pistol would have saved all those people on the New York train. I doubt it. Only fifteen percent of the trained soldiers in the Second World War fired their weapons at anyone. The big fear - at least until recently - was killing, not being killed. A person, however well armed and trained has to be willing to kill to justify the gun and training. Most likely, an armed good citizen would have started a gun fight and increased the body count.

So check your paper. I'll wager we'll have a couple of deaths within families in Boulder County this holiday.