Self-Control Not Gun Control

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This is not an editorial about gun control. This is an editorial about self-control.

On our front page today, we have two stories that involve handguns. One is the story of Harold Fish who fatally shot a man at a trailhead because he feared for his life. There is also the story of Payson teenager Susan Crim, who did not lose her life, but who lost her mobility from a bullet-caused spinal injury. And even one week ago on our front page we published a story about a mother who shot and killed her son during an argument.

We look at these stories as a gathering mass and wonder what could have happened in each of those moments to change the course of events.

We do not believe in gun regulation. Owning a gun is a constitutional right, but we believe these incidents show that people are increasingly forgetting the weight of responsibility that comes with gun ownership.

Fear motivates many to purchase and carry handguns.

Though statistically, violent crime is on the decline, concealed weapons permits are on the increase.

According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, United States residents age 65 and up are now the most likely of all citizens to own a gun.

People are shielding themselves for the moment they might be attacked or robbed.

But fear is a blinding thing and not always to be trusted. Consider a short story by Annie Proulx published in her "Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2" anthology. In it she tells the story of a couple who leave their life in New York for a 35-acre ranchette in northern Wyoming. The wife's reality slowly unravels in the emptiness around their home. Without neighbors all around, she feels vulnerable.

One snowy morning, alone in her home, she sees a man crawling across the field. She hides behind the curtain and watches as he gets closer. As he crawls onto her porch, their eyes meet. His face is red. His expression is tortured.

"He's a mad man," she thinks. He crawls to her door and begins knocking furiously. She presses herself against the door, terrified, and refuses to open it.

When someone finally drives by, it is quickly discovered that the man on the porch is a backcountry skier with a broken leg. A man she refused to help because of her fear.

Imagine how the story could have turned out differently if the woman owned a handgun. What if she had fired in "self defense?"

At the risk of leaping to conclusions about Harold Fish, the prosecution argued that he overreacted. Whether he made the right choice, he sits in a cell now with an uncertain fate, a possible 10 to 22 years prison time.

How could his life have been different if he hadn't been carrying a handgun on that day in 2004?

If you decide to carry a handgun, as many people in this area do, examine your motives and your need.

It is our Second Amendment right to carry a gun, but is it necessary?

There is a Letter to the Editor in today's paper that makes a good point. We have the right to bear arms, but the moment we use a weapon, everything changes.

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