To the Editor:
Last Sunday morning at 3 a.m. I woke up in my cozy, warm bed and couldn't get back to sleep for over two hours. Many things raced through my mind, but one overwhelming thought was the column I read in this newspaper (March 1) from the County Sheriffs of Colorado.
If it was the purpose of the sheriffs to instill fear in me, they did a good job.
I usually feel very safe in my home. I don't own a gun. I wouldn't want to shoot a young man who was invading our home. He can have our TV. I would no doubt miss if I tried to hit him. And if he saw me standing at the doorway with a shaking gun in my hand, he would know that he had the upper hand.
Having read the sheriffs' position, I feel that I have to address a couple of issues that I just don't understand.
First of all, really what is wrong with state or national gun registration? The sheriffs believe that it would be a "punishment" for law-abiding citizens to be entered into a state-mandated database. How is this a punishment? They also seem to be totally against gun registration outside of their individual counties, citing the example of private sales. If I own a gun and want to sell it to my neighbor or family member back in my home state, why shouldn't he/she register that weapon? If I sell my car to a neighbor, he's going to have to go to DMV and register the car. No one seems upset about that.
Secondly, the sheriffs mention Chicago and the strict gun laws in the state of Illinois. I recently visited that beautiful city. I didn't feel unsafe, yet I know the danger is there. Gang/drug wars seem to be the cause of the terrible violence. I don't see how that relates to stricter gun laws. The problems of that city are multi-faceted: poverty, drug wars, dysfunctional families, etc.
I agree with the sheriffs' column that more must to be done to get the mentally ill off of the streets and into proper care. My husband and I were in San Francisco last fall: Within a period of 30 minutes while waiting for a tour bus, I encountered three ranting, disturbed people. Some in our group chuckled: It's not funny; I could envision any one of those people striking out violently in anger.
I've never held a gun in my hand and I don't plan to. If my neighbors want to own guns, I don't have a problem with that as long as they have had the proper class on how to use the gun, register it, and expect to be denied ownership if they have a mental illness or a criminal record.
I know that we can't stop all heinous crimes with gun registration, but what's wrong with making a start to change the culture of our gun country and our gun state?
On a beautiful March day in 1981, my little neighbor girl knocked on our door and said, "Mommy's bleeding." When I went into her house, I didn't know what to expect. I saw my neighbor lying on the floor dying. Troubled by an unfaithful husband, she took her own life with his gun, a gun that had been left loaded on a closet shelf. When I called him that morning to tell him his wife had been taken to the hospital, his first question was "Where's the gun." It wasn't registered. He wanted to avoid legal hassles.
This is my experience with guns. So I am prejudiced against all guns. I admit that. I would like to understand the prejudices of our Colorado sheriffs. We have to find a common ground of gun control to make all of us safer. Gun registration that crosses state boundaries seems a simple answer, only a beginning.
I live in a gun country, a gun state, a gun county. I get it. But please let's do everything, anything that will help make all of us safe, not fearful of living in a state/county where anyone can carry a gun without proper registration.
Linda H. Spaet