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Wednesday, 8 April, 1998, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Reaction to the US handgun issue: A ban is the only solution
A ban on handguns and overall reform of gun legislation in America was the majority viewpoint from outside America - particularly the UK.

There are times when we must all give up a little freedom, a little time to watch over our children, so why not give up a little freedom for their sake and ban public ownership of guns altogether.
Francis Anderson, UK

Yes, we should ban the handgun, as well as all weapons. It would be difficult to do so because the Second Amendment supposedly protects private gun ownership. However, the courts have rules that gun regulation is permitted under this Amendment, and the US government has banned other weapons from private ownership. Guns have no place in today's society, as we have seen in the Jonesboro tragedy. It should be noted that this tragedy comes after several other shootings in the South, and continued urban violence everywhere else. For those Americans who read this and are opposed to gun control, compare the crime rates in Buffalo, where I live, to Toronto, a mere 150 km away. Ban hand guns now.
Chuck Greenberg, USA

There is too much propaganda from gun enthusiasts about freedom and the right to carry firearms. In fact I would feel freer the fewer people had guns. Every gun has the potential for causing an accident in my opinion. So let's do away with as many as possible.
Jan Herman Veldkamp, Netherlands

Having just read some of the submitted letters, some from highly qualified people, I am astounded by some of the remarks made. The argument that England has similar crime rates to the USA is ridiculous and as for the "remember 1939" and how you came begging comments, it saddens me to even read that. Millions died then and I am sure England thanks the US for the help it gave. I thought we were all allies?
The problem is really plain and simple. Why does anyone really need a gun? Let's be honest. Unfortunately there are those that think it's smart and clever. Just ban them. What the hell. Give a life-term to anyone with one in there possession. I am sorry if it affects the Olympics or the farmers and most of all the huge industry making billions each year from selling them. But hey, why the hell not! Can't do any harm can it? And, you know, MAYBE it will help.
Chris Burton, New Zealand

Yes. And as an American, may I apologise for those brainwashed, violent, self-righteous and obnoxious Americans who have made their comments known in the section on Brits.
Scott, USA

To the best of my knowledge the Wild West was tamed quite a while ago. So it is my opinion that if Americans genuinely care about all their children's futures and put their priorities in the right order then they have no other option than to ban weapons in the home. What possible harm can it do? I am sure the law enforcement agencies would all agree. As someone once said, 'if you carry a weapon be prepared to use it'. I for one am not prepared to do that and as a parent of two children I cannot see how any sane person can argue against this stance. Go on USA, make a change and really impress the world.
Bill Matthews, Fiji Islands

With a total ban on guns comes total government control of our lives. Ban guns? We'd do better to ban politicians!
Mark, USA

As a Canadian living in the USA, I am constantly amazed by the number of gun-related crimes I hear about. The freedom to bear arms is a complete infringement on the freedom (and right) to feel safe. Yes, I believe the handgun should be banned. It would prevent accidental shootings (when children play or experiment with the gun) and may prevent many intentional shootings also. I'd feel safer.
Trina Ruffles, USA

I feel that America should ban handguns immediately. As a high school student, I feel that today's teenagers are walking around with too much uncontrolled anger and hostility to be trusted with a handgun. I certainly would not feel safe at school knowing certain students had guns.
Ilda Caeiro, Canada

Jim White, USA

Yes yes yes. On visiting America I was sickened to see guns sold at counters in supermarkets. It made me feel sick to my stomach. To see children reared to view guns as being a natural and essential tool for protection is petrifying.
Charlotte, UK

The practice of owning a handgun should be outlawed except in the case of military or law enforcement personnel. It is one thing to use rifles or shotguns for hunting and quite another to possess a firearm for which its only purpose is to harm or kill human beings. I don't believe a lot of people who own handguns would seriously be able to employ them in the event of need, and a hardened criminal would have no such hesitation. We're better off taking our chances unarmed, as far more people are killed in ACCIDENTAL gun incidents than the gun lobby would have us believe.
Elaine Hines-Carver, United States of America

I think it is time for America to wake up to the fact that banning handguns would save many lives. Guns are everywhere here in America and we should take some kind of action to get them off the streets and out of the home now!
Sonny Felts, Oxford, Mississippi, US

Of course handguns should be banned in the United States. For more than 30 years I've been a journalist here. I've covered death and tragedy in every form. In most cases, the cause of which has been the handgun. These people who say we have a Constitutional right to own and carry arms are absolutely correct. But I can't believe that the people who framed our Constitution had any idea that we would turn into a nation of paranoid idiots, who think that if we don't have a house full of guns, we are apt to be invaded by villains from at home and abroad, and lose all that we hold precious.
The fact is, we lose a little bit of freedom in the United States every time a tragedy like that in Jonesboro occurs. It has reached the point in this country that we don't dare honk our horns at an absent-minded driver because we might get shot. We don't stop our cars in some neighbourhoods, because we might get shot. We don't complain about our neighbour's dog barking, because we might get shot.
The governor of Arkansas, like many politicians who receive a lot of money from the National Rifle Association, didn't blame guns for the Jonesboro tragedy. He blamed television. It was as if he thought a couple of boys, aged 13 and 11, pulled a fire alarm and began lobbing televisions at their schoolmates. I think the British should be commended for banning handguns.
When I visit England, I feel safe. I don't think you can feel the same way when you come to the US. Look at all the horrible incidents that have occurred to English tourists just in Florida. That's just one State. Magnify that by 50. It's a disgrace...
Randall Collier, USA

Yes, yes, yes. When the Constitution was written there was every need for citizens to protect themselves from both the British and the French - and the Indians also. But the country has grown and we no longer need to fight off our enemies. Rather our enemies are here in the street - the guys with the guns. It is an arcane and bucolic attitude that insists that we still need guns for protection and I think that Jonesboro has shown us how archaic this situation is.
I am not a zealot. I was brought up on a farm in rural England and was taught to shoot responsibly at an early age. Guns do not belong in every American home. They should be restricted for sports shooting and gun clubs and not for every citizen to use as they feel free to.
We need to look at the overall situation and not "our right to bear arms" as it applies to today's living. No one has the right to shoot another person and until we can restrict and control guns heavily, shootings like those in Jonesboro will continue to haunt us. Don't these zealots realise that there are other people in America who would like to live their lives without wondering whether they will make it to their next birthday? I think that life and the right to live that life is far more important than anyone advocating the "right to bear arms." Perhaps one needs to look at the mentality of these zealots who have arsenals in their homes?
Anne H Watson, USA

Yes, the US should ban the handgun. They serve no logical purpose other than to kill or maim other human beings. Even in households with guns for "self protection", members of the household are three times more likely to be injured or killed than members of a non-gun household.
Joel R Heeres, USA

People in the US didn't even realise how violence in this country compares to that in other industrial countries. If they don't wake up, we'll end up sitting in fortified houses, wearing bullet-proof jackets, being afraid to go out, and reading from the Internet that life is beautiful. One of the previous messages here says "There is NO 'GUN VIOLENCE' Problem!" Congratulations to the author for extremely bright observation. My advice is: just open your eyes and look again.
Leszek Nowakowski, Puerto Rico, USA

The tragedy in Jonesboro is the result of this nation's endemic love affair with violence. From the cartoons our children watch to the movies we pay to see as adults, violence permeates our existence. I used to believe we should ban handguns and allow people to maintain their Second Amendment rights with rifles and shotguns for self-defense. It should be pointed out that handguns were not used to murder the people in Jonesboro. I now believe we should ban all guns--period.
Dennis Jacobs, USA

I have no reason to understand why, in the first place, handguns were made legal. Or why they have remained legal for so long. There are many ways to protect one's self. A gun at home is the most dangerous in the name of "protection". I strongly support imposing a ban on handguns in America (or anywhere else).
Miheer K. Fyzee, USA

Guns should be banned. We don't need them. In Scotland we had a terrible incident in a small town called Dunblane where many young children had to die before we in Britain realized that a ban was long overdue. Despite what they think in New Zealand the ban will lower the amount of gun-related incidents. As for defense of a country i.e. in 1939, we were quite able to fight the Germans without the Yanks. It's just American arrogance to think the US saved the world (with or without guns).
Chris McLafferty, Scotland, Great Britain

Gun aficionados respond to gun-related violence by saying, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Since we can't ban gun nuts, banning guns is the only alternative.
Barbara Lagowski, USA

The sole purpose of a weapon which is used to kill other living things should certainly be banned. There is no reason why any civilised country should not restrict the sale, purchase and possession of lethal weapons. Of course it's the person and the gun that are the real problem but you will never educate and eradicate those in society who cause harm to others, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, the opportunity to inflict harm using guns should be restricted in order to protect society. Incidentally, I find those Americans saying "Brits keep out" quite hypocritical and arrogant - since when have Americans kept out of the affairs of other countries? (Arabian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, etc.). We are all sharing this planet and are entitled to express views on issues that affect all of us.
Ian Edwards, UK

Thousands of Americans are killed each year so that we can pander to our paranoia. Private citzens don't need handguns.
John Phebus, USA

America's "melting pot" is boiling over. The number of murders involving guns is overwhelming. Within ten miles of my home there is at least one bloody homicide committed each day (involving guns). We are taught as children, that "the guy with the biggest gun wins". Hand guns, shot guns, and high power rifles are all readily available to anyone in the US. Drive-by gang shootings, children shooting children, husbands shooting their entire families, armed robbers, and US Postal Service workers who "suddenly snap" and gun down fellow workers; are all examples of daily occurrences across the US. The United States is no longer the "Home of the Brave". But, the Land of the ARMED AND DANGEROUS! That is the truth.
John Harris, USA

There is a definite problem. I worry about my children and husband everyday. A man was shot at my husband's factory a couple of years ago over a dispute involving a woman. A 17-year old girl just shot herself a week ago. How do they come across these guns so easily? I am sure that we could never get rid of all of them, but it would be nice to see someone take a stand and get something done. This madness has to stop.
Christine Steinman, United States

Absolutely! American paranoia is at work here. There are still some people in this country who think there are communists hiding under their beds. The American gun lobby is fond of saying "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Tell that to the people of Jonesboro, Arkansas!
John A Merullo, USA

Americans need to grow up and stop clinging to their pitiful "it's our right to have the power to defend my vcr" argument. Take a little break and see if it's any better without guns, at least. What harm could there be in having a ten year moratorium on possessing a firearm. Or are they truly afraid that the minute they relinquish their pistols, the national guard is going to swoop into their homes?
Chrisbey, Canada

Guns aggravate violent crime. They should be banned.
Ajay Kodali, USA

The number of handgun-related deaths in the USA is vastly higher than in the UK - this speaks for itself.
Matthew Burchell, UK

Guns are not toys. They are meant to kill people and any society which professes to uphold the sanctity of human life should not allow guns.
Jim Pearman, United Kingdom

Would you ban axes, if a loony went into a nursery and killed all the children? Would you ban knives, if someone cut the throats of all the newborns in a hospital? You must treat the cause, not the effect. Why would children even consider killing their classmates? It is the culture, not the guns....!
John Chism, USA

Guns should be banned, we don't need them. In Scotland we had a terrible incident in a small town called Dumblane were many young children had to die before we in Britain realized that a ban was long overdue. Despite what they think in New Zealand the ban will lower the amount of gun related incidents. As for defence of a country i.e. in 1939 we were quite able to fight the Germans without the Yanks, its just American Arrogance to think they saved the world(with or without guns).
Chris McLafferty, Scotland

Handguns should not be banned. Fewer innocent people are killed by firearms than other means. The framers of our (United States) constitution felt it necessary to ensure that the government understood that the common citizen had the God given right (versus government permission) to bear arms for a very good reason.
Mark Watson, USA

When an 11 year old and a 13 year old do not think it is wrong to murder their classmates, what makes anyone think that the tools of their crimes are the blame.
Dave Giurintano, USA

There is no doubt in my mind that the Federal Government in Washington should ban all types of guns in ALL 50 states in the USA. We could do it here in the UK after the horrible act in Dunblane. So why can't the Americans do it after the equally horrible act in Jonesboro? If they don't they obviously don't care what happens to their 'valuable' lives. I bet that if they lost a child through a shooting they would want guns banned. So they should just stop thinking about themselves for once and think about those five innocent people who were massacred.
Shane Quinn, Northern Ireland

Banning hand guns is a form of self-defence, the best form!
Joe Dowsett, England

It is insane that guns should be available to anyone who wants them. By the process of self- selection those who buy them are invariably the very people least equipped, emotionally and intellectually, to handle them. Furthermore, the more firearms there are the greater the chance that they will fall into the hands of a child or a nutcase, as happened tragically in Arkansas and a year ago in Port Arthur, Australia.
Ed, Australia

As a Briton living in the US I often talk to my friends and colleagues about this subject and have long given up trying to make people understand the need for gun control. I was at Dunblane and no amount of reasoning will ever make me believe that there can be any need to own a gun. However, it is also important that Britons refrain from what can sometimes be seen as preaching to their "less moralistic friends across the ocean". It is a completely different society here and one which they are making a reasonable job of, by and large.
John Boon, USA/UK

I think America should ban the handgun because too many innocent people are being killed. I am a teacher. I do not want to be afraid that if I make one of my students mad it is legal for him to have a gun and shoot me. I do not want to be afraid to walk down the street, drive in my car, go to work, etc. Too many people are ignorant in this country. They think it is not going to happen to them. THINK AGAIN!!
Kimberly Skinner, USA

Someone needs to take the initiative for the sake of the Americans when we see statements like "somehow we seem to be desensitised to death in America". There are many excuses being given and no doubt the usual truckload of "counsellors" will be brought in to convince everyone involved that there really was no blame when what is needed is for those responsible to publicly accept and acknowledge their responsibility. How can anyone in their right mind put guns in the hands of children? The parents, the gun clubs and the entire gun lobby are responsible and should hang their heads in shame. If the people cannot accept their own responsibility then the governments, state and national, MUST step in and remove guns from those who have no need for them. For the children's sake protect the children, PLEASE!
Trevor Anderson, UK

It's time that Americans had the courage to say "Enough is Enough"- easy access to guns is making it too easy for us to slaughter each other on a regular basis. This discussion is sorely missing from the media debate here in the US. Many Americans just want the cycle of violence to end. It's just to easy for people to resort to violence, and easy access to these deadly tools (especially for kids) is insane.
David Smagalla, USA

Handguns have no purpose beyond murder and threat of murder.
Kevin Hardisty, USA

Continuing to allow free access to weapons and then look for ways to curb violence is akin to allowing babies to have a packet of razor blades and then research the best way to suture the wounds.
P J Seddon, UK

Why do Americans kill each other at a rate much higher than any other Western Country? Is it something in the drinking water? Is it something they watch on Television? Whatever it is, I want no part of it. The sick people who continually support guns and somehow equate it with freedom must accept some responsibility for the deaths of so many young people.
Thomas Constable, Canada

24,526 murders in the United States in 1993, 70% committed with a fire arm, according to the National Criminal Victimization Survey, these figures speak for themselves!
Simon Green, UK

The lunacy which allows people such easy access to guns cannot be justified under any circumstances. 20,000 dead every year is the only statistic which means anything. No idiotic nonsense about "rights" means anything to someone who has lost a loved one. Ban them all now in the name of sanity.
Alistair Duff, Canada

After reading these comments, I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen. In the great tradition of this country, we immediately adopt the attitude that we are right because we are the US, that great bastion of "freedom." How often is a handgun successfully used in self-defense? Rarely, I suspect. I come from a Southern family who owned a number of firearms. Few of them hunt, and those that do certainly do not use pistols to do it. Why, then, do they need them? If a slight reduction in my freedom would make someone a bit safer, then by all means, ban the handgun.
Brandon S. Harry, USA

Easy access to powerful personal weapons such as hand guns makes killing all too easy.
Carl Mura, UK

Most certainly. Most gun control opponents say it is not because of the availability of guns but because of violence on TV and other reasons. I ask them: There is TV violence in Canada, UK, USA, Japan and a horde of other countries. Why do school shootings happen only in the US. Maybe because the kids can get guns easily?
Madhusudhan Rangarajan, USA

America should ban the handgun and all other guns. If guns were banned completely there would not be any need to have one for self-defence.
Steven, UK

Of course we should do everything we can to limit the spread of deadly weapons.
Dr. Robert Alcock, UK >

See also:

29 Mar 98 | Talking Point
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
30 Mar 98 | Talking Point
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
26 Mar 98 | US shooting
27 Mar 98 | US shooting
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