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With fewer guns on city streets, the ‘urge to kill’ would be fulfilled less often | READER COMMENTARY

Handguns are on display at Maryland Elite Firearms in Finksburg where Dan Hartman, owner of the gun shop, reports higher gun sales during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. File. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun).
Handguns are on display at Maryland Elite Firearms in Finksburg where Dan Hartman, owner of the gun shop, reports higher gun sales during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. File. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun). (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

In his recent letter to the editor (”Don’t blame guns for the city’s high homicide rate,” Dec. 20), Dudley Thompson correctly states that people kill people. Indeed, guns don’t jump off the table by themselves and kill people. He blames the “urge to kill” as the main problem. But this argument misses the larger point.

If fewer guns were readily available, there would be fewer killings. Sure, people with evil intent could use other things to kill — baseball bats, for example. But to kill with a bat you have to be very close to your victim, you have to be strong and determined to carry out a fatal attack, you would even have to plan it in advance unless you ordinarily carry a bat with you. And the attack would be less likely to be fatal, the intended victim would have a better chance of escape, would not bleed to death from a minor wound, etc. The urge to kill is not even present in a lot of killings — the urge to repay an insult, the urge to make somebody stop laughing at you, the urge to show you’re a man, the urge to get money, all lead to killings without any specific pre-planned urge to kill. But when a gun is handy, killings occur.

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Mr. Thompson refers to places where responsible gun-ownership is high and the numbers of killings are relatively low. In places like Baltimore, Detroit and others, too many guns are in irresponsible hands. And they’re not long-guns, rifles intended for hunting, but illegal handguns, stolen guns, or cheap untraceable, “ghost guns” made from kits.

People like Mr. Thompson who are truly concerned about the unacceptably high homicide rate in Baltimore and other places, should strongly support measures to restrict gun ownership to responsible citizens. They should be in favor of firearms registration and training. They should want to cut way back on the numbers of easily accessible handguns.

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Unfortunately, the urge to kill will always be a part of human beings. The ability to turn an urge into a murder doesn’t have to be.

Bradley Alger, Baltimore

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