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People use guns but, in a sense, guns use people too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action.
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

To the editor:

The recent article by Mark Bowes, entitled “VA  gun sales surge” did a very good job of analyzing the recent increase in Virginia background checks and showed that this trend is not a reliable indicator of a similar increase in the number of gun owners. However, what I think was missing from the piece was any comparison between the “beliefs” that were said to be associated with this apparent trend and actual reality.  Many people may indeed believe that violent crime would increase with a downturn in the economy, but the hard facts point to a continued decline in violent crime, both in VA and across the country.  It is also possible that many people believe that owning a gun would increase their personal security, yet the facts show that gun owners continue to die from gunshot injuries at rates much higher than non owners.

For white males, the person mostly likely to end your life with a bullet is the same guy you see every morning when you shave.  For women, the person that is most likely to kill you, or your children, with a gun will not kick down your front door, they already have a key!  If gun ownership was the best answer to personal protection, then we would not have more than 30,000 gun deaths a year, of which less than 300 are due to justifiable homicide.  Neither would there be more deaths among preschool age kids from guns than there are for on duty police officers.  As far as women are concerned, they should know that in less than 1% of all reported violent sexual assaults in VA, is the attacker in possession of a gun, and very rarely any other actual weapon.  Women should do everything in their power to not fall victim to sexual attack, but before deciding to carry a gun for defense, please get the training and practice you need to ensure that you won’t be supplying your attacker with his weapon.

I am not advocating that law abiding and mentally sound people not buy guns, as there are many legitimate uses for them, however, I am asking that before anyone makes the momentous decision to bring a gun into the home, that they give more consideration to the facts, about the true relationship between gun ownership and gun deaths, than they do to the myths.

Andrew L. Goddard
President, Virginia Center for Public Safety