In Meredith Carroll’s column “The Aurora-Penn State connection,” (Meredith Pro Tem, July 25) she asserts that the “gun crazies” inanely argue that others bearing weapons may have made the theater-shootings “less atrocious.” I wonder if Ms. Carroll would have wanted an armed person in that theater who might have prevented the possible killing of her young daughter by such a deranged person?

According to one source, there are 260 million weapons owned by private citizens in the United States. You would think with such a plethora of weaponry there would be hourly reports of shootings by armed citizens. A recent study by the Cato Institute examined publicly reported uses of firearms in the U.S. over the period October 2003 through November 2011. What they found was that in the overwhelming majority of instances firearms were used to protect persons from others seeking to harm them, their families, or their property.

Let’s compare two other horrific killings by deranged persons:

• New Life Church in Colorado — Matthew J Murray, murderer. Two people killed and three wounded. Murray wounded before he could enter main church where 100 people were attending services. Jeanne Assam, a church member and licensed security officer for the church, critically wounded Murray before he committed suicide.

• Virginia Tech University — Seung-Hui Cho, murderer. Thirty-two people killed and 17 wounded over a two-hour period before Cho committed suicide.

If there was another armed student in the classrooms where Cho conducted his killings over two hours, perhaps some of those 32 killed would be alive today. Fortunately for the parishioners of the New Life Church, Murray was shot by an armed member of the church before he could kill vastly more after police began searching for him at the youth center more than 10 hours earlier.

Much less from deranged and criminal persons, the ability of armed citizens to protect themselves from brutalization by the local authorities and Ku Klux Klan, et al, has been crucial in our history, even since the end of World War II.

I believe people should have the right to arm themselves. There should be national background checks to prevent selling of weapons to unauthorized persons and gun owners should be required to take a test indicating they know the proper use and safety of their weapons.

Self-defense is one of our most basic rights. Strict gun control regulations interfere with that right because ordinary citizens abide by the regulations while criminals acquire guns from underground markets. That leaves honest, law-abiding people at a distinct disadvantage because it is not possible for the police to be at every scene where they are desperately needed.

John Medlin

Santa Monica

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