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A Sickness in American Society

May 15, 1991

Your column (Dianne Klein, May 9) concerning the inadequacy of the latest attempt to obtain some level of control over the proliferation of handguns deserves some support from readers who are deeply disturbed by the violence that is endemic in the American culture.

In the 30 years that I have been in the United States, I have never ceased to be utterly amused by this constitutional "right to own handguns or other types of firearms." This so-called "freedom" is nothing more than anarchy in a country that claims to be governed by laws. The arguments raised by the defenders of this so-called freedom are so illogical that they are not worth rebuttal. The Brady bill in essence assumes that "law-abiding" citizens do not commit murder. However, statistics seem to indicate that more homicides are committed within families--squabbles arising through bad personal relationships and other domestic issues--than during the enactment of a felony.

The woman who shot her ex-husband and his spouse in San Diego did not have a "criminal record"; neither presumably did the young man who shot another young man in Dana Point recently; neither premumably did the legal owner of the gun.

The oft-quoted reason for owning a gun is for hunting--yet very few owners hunt. And why the killing of animals is classified as a sport is beyond my powers of reasoning. The other common response is that a gun is required for one's defense. However, very few are successful in their defense, and more often they are killed in return. If one shows the intent to use a gun, then surely this is forcing the other party to respond in kind, with often tragic results.

The most ludicrous aspect of this gun issue is that it hinges upon a constitutional amendment that was written in the Age of Enlightenment, when horse thievery was a capital crime and heresy still invoked a sentence of execution. The most tragic aspect of the gun issue is that the American public by and large is inured to the violence that is so uniquely "American." We grow up with it--it is our main form of entertainment; and our national hero whose effigy stands at Orange County airport portrays a man with a revolver swinging at his hip.

I read that the handgun business is a $2.5-billion industry, which is $10 per capita. What could be more indicative of the sickness that pervades our society, which claims to be a civilized one.

NORMAN F. BATES,

Dana Point

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