To the editor: David Hemenway's article on the science that shows gun ownership and increased safety do not correlate is spot on. ("Does owning a gun make you safer?," op-ed, Aug. 4)
I have long suspected that the National Rifle Assn. and similar groups have made gross exaggerations in claiming that guns are necessary for adequate self-defense. Hemenway's research clearly demonstrates the gaping holes in that argument.
Sadly, I fear that this research will be rejected out of hand by gun advocates just as critics of climate change have summarily dismissed the many scientific studies with evidence on the reality of global warming. Is this another inconvenient truth?
Sharie Lieberg, Oxnard
To the editor: Hemenway's numbers on gun ownership do not tell the entire story. Here's what the Cato Institute wrote in 2000:
"The 31 states that have 'shall issue' laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24% lower violent crime rate, a 19% lower murder rate and a 39% lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons.... Remarkably, guns are used for self-defense more than 2 million times a year, three to five times the estimated number of violent crimes committed with guns."
Hemenway's statistics reflect that self-defense is a reactive rather than a proactive problem.
Gun ownership is an inalienable right under the natural law of self-defense and an enumerated right under the Constitution. Our founders defined the militia as all able citizens. Good skill and safety training is needed.
Stephen Smith, Eagle Rock
To the editor: Hemenway's piece shows there is a very big and still growing public health crisis in this country that no one is talking about as a crisis that must be treated.
Add guns to climate-change denial, creationism, anti-vaccination, trickle-down tax cuts and many other national problems that have become so highly partisan that they are impervious to facts.
Americans will cling to their beliefs despite strong evidence to the contrary. We have simply become anti-intellectual and anti-learning. As long as we bend the empirical world to our rock-hard beliefs, our government will remain dysfunctional.
Unless this country undergoes a much-needed enlightenment, it will decline precipitously.
Zareh Delanchian, Tujunga