Dear Editor:

I read Mr. Taylor's article "Where the Streets Have No Guns" with amazement. If he truly thinks that living in a society where you say the wrong thing, take a photo of something that you shouldn't and where people disappear on a daily basis because of their political views, is in any way a comparison with the United States, he should denounce his citizenship and live in his new "Utopia."

Mr. Taylor would not be able to write an article like that in China without the fear of imprisonment. Gun control in China and in many other countries is used not to quell crime, but to protect their oppressive governments.

The way the media uses their First Amendment rights to try to strip law abiding gun owners of their Second Amendment rights disgusts me. Let's get a few things straight: firearms sales and ownership are already one of the most regulated industries there are.

The terms "Automatic" and "Assault Weapons" which the media freely uses to describe any gun used in a crime is wrong and used to elicit a response from their viewers or readers. Automatic firearm (assault weapon) ownership and transfer is strictly regulated through FBI background checks, regulated dealers, mandatory reporting, and strict storage and transfer rules.

The media paints all gun owners with a wide brush – we own firearms, therefore our guns are going to be used in a crime, kill a family member, a neighbor, be stolen and used illegally or we're going to go on a shooting spree. Law abiding firearm owners are just that – we follow the laws.

I store my firearms in a safe place, handle them safely, my family knows how to safely shoot and handle them. I participate in clay target shoots, high power rifle competitions, and bowling pin shoots (BTW- I use high capacity magazines).

I regularly spend more than a thousand dollars a year in firearm related sports – I keep people in jobs and support the economy and so do the thousands of others who participate in the shooting sports. My family members and I possess carry permits and follow all the laws and regulations for carrying concealed – we also understand the daunting responsibility of carrying a firearm for protection.

Used illegally, a firearm can be an instrument of crime, the same way a car is when in control of an unlicensed driver or a drunken driver, a knife in the hands of a mugger, or a syringe of drugs in the hands of an addict. The one common denominator here is the person behind the weapon- whether it is a gun, a carving knife, baseball bat or a rock – it is being used to commit a crime, and the individual should be dealt with severely.

When you purchase a gun illegally, or lie on an application, or carry without a license, you are committing a crime- period. Let's make the punishment not worth the crime- mandatory sentences which are on the books should be enforced, high fines, performing public service, etc. are the answer.

The Colorado shooter will not see justice for many, many, years – until the lawyers and the psychiatrists have their say and try to excuse his behavior because he was too smart, or treated badly as a child, or bullied, etc. There is no excuse – it is human instinct to know that killing another human is wrong – but we have had that "dumbed down" by the courts, lawyers, psychiatrists and special interest groups.

If you are caught committing the crime – punishment should be swift and without excuses – he should be immediately imprisoned for life or given an immediate death sentence (another discussion at another time).

In closing, banning an inanimate object is not the answer. Legal gun ownership supports the economy, encourages people to go get out and socialize at sporting events and has been the basis of our freedoms that no other country in the world enjoys.

Encouraging violence prevention programs, giving law enforcement the tools and financing they need to carry out their mission, engaging youth in service organizations and fraternal groups instead of allowing them to lose social skills because of impersonal technology like email and texting (we need to talk face to face more often).

The media needs to reduce the amount of coverage they have of incidents like Colorado, seeing the murderers' picture every day and hearing about him and his behavior for weeks on end, encourages "wannabes."

We all have a duty to report crimes and to report those who are acting suspiciously or who make threats to other persons. Firearms owners have a duty to secure their firearms, to sell through licensed dealers and to ensure that they are used safely and with respect.

We can control our own behavior and influence those around us – that is the only type of "Control" we need.

Respectfully,

John Brobst

Tamaqua