Letter to the Editor

Gun laws in the Lakes region

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the letter to the editor from Myrna Loehrlein, Ph.D., President of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. While I support her desire to provide the "right of citizens to live in an environment in which known health hazards are recognized and eliminated or, at least, minimized," I disagree with her assertion that "guns are a health hazard." I cannot remember a single instance when a gun decided to attack and fired itself upon an individual or group of people.

Living in the Iowa Great Lakes Region, I know that many people here own guns. I feel safer in knowing that if, God forbid, we ever came under a similar attack from a mentally-unstable person, there would be a good chance that they would be shot or subdued before 19 people were killed or wounded by them.

Interestingly enough, in the same edition of the paper in which her letter appeared, there was a front-page story about our county supervisors debating whether to ban firearms in county buildings. After much discussion, the motion died for a lack of a second. Our county sheriff spoke in opposition to the ordinance, citing the cost-prohibitive nature of enforcing such a law. The same problem would exist statewide. How would we pay to enforce such a ban? It was also pointed out that, if some crazed person did decide to bring a gun into a county building, they would know in advance that no one there would be armed.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords owns a Glock pistol, essentially similar to the gun that was used in her attack. She had stated on many occasions to her husband and others that she feared for her life, and believed that she may be attacked at one of her "Congress on the Corner" events. I just wonder what different outcome there might have been had she chosen to carry her gun, instead of keeping it locked in her safe at home. I am in no way blaming her for the actions of a crazed killer, but had she, or anyone else in attendance, been carrying a gun, the outcome may have been a lot different.

I am a firm believer that people are basically good, and that only someone with severe mental problems could carry out such a senseless, brutal attack on innocent people. I feel sorry for all of the victims, the Tucson community, as well as Jered Loughner and his family. We often feel a sense vulnerability at times like these, as well as a sense of anger. We want to fix the problem so that we won't have to face similar situations in the future. Unfortunately, people with severe mental illness will exist well into the future and rational solutions will not prevent them from carrying out irrational acts. Whether the weapon of choice is a gun, knife, club, spear, baseball bat, or whatever, there will still be attacks. I think our focus should be on treating the mentally ill, and not on ineffective gun-control laws. (Mexico has strict gun-control laws, and we know how that's working.) I believe that Pima Community College could have, and should have, done more to get Jared Loughner into a metal health treatment facility. Instead, they expelled him, and left him to fend for himself against his mental illness. If we would treat mental illness like any other physical affliction, we would have far fewer incidents of this nature. I think of all the recent high school and college shooting incidents, and how many lives could have been saved, had there been intervention before these people acted out.

I leave you with this quote: "Law that forbids the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -- Thomas Jefferson


Keith Brockmeyer

Spirit Lake