Voice of the people: Bill Gillmore




A mea culpa on guns


Dr. Ford has found me out. I was sloppy and did inadequate research. I allowed myself to be guided by experience and cursory review.


In Danang, I was responsible for a machine gun emplacement. We never set it up for real, as we were never attacked. I was trained in its use and handling, though. The only time I held a .45 was in boot camp.



I never met a tank crewman, but his having a pistol makes sense.


Soldiers on special missions are issued special armament, so SEALs and other special forces often carry sidearms.


Pistols are terrible infantry weapons. There have neither the range nor the penetrating power of a military rifle. Even the brief range training the Army gets with rifles will enable soldiers to hit a basketball at 200 yards. A man with a pistol would be hard-pressed to hit the basketball at 20 yards. Most, even trained, cannot do so at less than 20 feet as witness the errant fusillades of police officers everywhere.


So, typically, grunts do not carry sidearms.


The occasional soldier with a pistol may embarrass me for carelessness, but in no way invalidates the point that hand guns are poor weapons for defense and worse for hunting.


Their only virtue is that they can be concealed.


A buy-back program is designed to accommodate the 5th Amendment's taking clause, protecting us from uncompensated seizing of property by government. It is not designed as an enticement; certainly not as an enticement to gangsters.


Robert Heinlein was a naval officer and a Hugo-winning science fiction novelist. He once wrote that "an armed society is a polite society." I think it is obvious that he was wrong. Canadians, for example, are much more polite than we. Politeness is a part of a stable and balanced way to conduct social interactions. In the right circumstances, anyone can become mentally unstable. Perhaps that is why so many women are shot by their husbands. In the bedroom. (Women tend to stab their husbands in the kitchen, but we are not discussing edged weapons.)


I have seen both bumper stickers: "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" and "When guns are outlawed, only police will have guns." Both are sobering. The solution to too many guns must be more guns.


Not really.


Dr. Ford wrote that he disagreed with all my propositions except punishment. I wonder what he would do with hand guns and large magazines.


Bill Gillmore







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