Opinion & Blogs » Letters

First-Person Tales Trigger Debate on Both Sides of Issue

"I Got Shot" (Cover Story, Oct. 4) should scare every citizen of Richmond and the surrounding areas.

Every night you turn your television sets on, you're reminded of the senseless violence due to handguns. There are young men on our streets carrying "choppers" — street name for AK-47 assault weapons. The pro-gun lobby should know this.

Guns are killing young black men in droves in the city of Richmond and across this country. Police officers are losing their lives; schools are being turned into killing fields even in our suburbs.

Guns kill, and yes, humans are responsible. But the gun industry has made guns fashionable like smoking cigarettes. They both kill.

Daryl Holland,
executive director
Youth for Social Change

As a recent transplant from New York City to Richmond, I'd like to thank you for the cover story "I Got Shot." I felt your story was balanced and didn't draw any specific conclusions, which is what true journalism is supposed to be about — a simple account of what happened. This leads people to form their own opinions, talk with others, engage in rational debate and ultimately think for themselves.

In that spirit, I would take issue with the inclusion of data from The Legal Community Against Violence. It's not that their data is wrong, but it is presented out of context.

Shortly, we will have 300 million people in the United States. We already have between 120 million and 250 million firearms here, depending on who you ask and what they consider to be a "firearm."

In this context, the fact that we only have 12,267 gun-related homicides is pretty remarkable. Accidents with firearms are considerably rare as well, because guns are obviously dangerous objects as opposed to swimming pools, which are not regarded as dangerous, and yet they kill as many children under the age of 13 as handguns do.

Given the fact that over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like aspirin, kill 60,000 people every year, and doctors, who are specifically not supposed to kill you, wind up killing about 180,000 people every year, gun deaths are not an issue worthy of national debate. And gun control is certainly not an issue that should be tipping our elections one way or the other.

The fact that I have a rifle in my closet or that I carry a handgun should not be a factor in who I vote for. Unfortunately, with partisan politics and the lack of accurate information presented in context, gun control will continue to divide us as a people, undermine our political process, and prevent any discussion about the economic inequalities that cause most gun violence in the first place.

Matt Siegel

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