Letter To The Editor: Guns, Roses, And Race

Los Alamos

We remember the race riots of the late 60’s. My wife and I lived in Cleveland, Ohio; we were students at Case Western Reserve University.

She was in the School of Nursing, and I was a physics graduate student at Case. We heard and watched the riots in Watts on radio and TV. When Hough burned, we watched it from near our apartment in Cleveland Heights.

I was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in and around Newark. I remember hearing and watching Newark burn and news from family and friends. I remember when four students were killed at Kent State, not far from Cleveland. The events of recent years and the past week definitely show there’s racial prejudice remaining in our country, but there are also other reasons.

Ten years later, we were living in Ispra, Italy; I was working at the Joint Research Centre of the Europoean Communities (EURATOM). One weekend, I entered the Centre shortly after hearing of two Highway Policemen killed when they stopped a speeding car with a couple mob bosses. While talking with guards at the entrance, I mentioned this sad event. I’ll never forget their response: “Yes, poor Italy we may become as violent as the USA!”

I realized we’d learned Italy was a much safer and less violent country than the USA.

This sad week two African-Americans were killed by police in Baton Rouge and a suburb of St. Paul, and five Dallas police were killed along with seven others and two civilians were wounded.

Here’s my assessment of our country’s problem; unfortunately, I realize there’s almost no desire to resolve it. THERE ARE FAR TWO MANY DAMN FIREARMS IN THIS COUNTRY. Per person, the USA has over 11 times more guns in private hands than the average of the rest of the world. It has more guns than people. Eighty-eight citizens die by guns every day. Only 2 percent of these are the result of mass shootings. Roughly 80 percent are suicides, and the rest are domestic quarrels and miscellaneous.

Without a gun in one’s house, car or person, a person considering suicide has a much lower probability of committing it. Likewise a domestic argument is much less likely to lead to a shooting and possible death.

Why is there an increase of police shootings killing citizens, often African-Americans (blacks)? One possibility is that police and everyone know so many Americans own and guns, sometimes with concealed-carry licenses, that the possibility of being shot has increased dramatically. Like the rest of us, the police have no desire to die in the ‘line of duty’, even though they realize it is a potential part of their occupation.

My conclusion, or bottom line, is that our country must dramatically disarm its citizenry! Alas, I realize this is very unlikely given our beliefs and mentality.