Readers argue they have a right to protect themselves.
In my August editorial, I joined the Indiana Manufacturers’ Association and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in opposing a new state law that allows workers to keep guns locked in their vehicles while parked on their employers’ property.
Many of you called, wrote and e-mailed to disagree, and I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to read my piece and respond. Since we don’t have a letters page in the magazine, I’ll share some of the responses here, and invite further comments. Whether you agree or disagree, I ask only that you keep your comments civil. Let the debate begin!
Note: Some letters were edited for clarity, spelling, grammar and politeness.
“I noted your editorial regarding guns in the August issue. While your editorial is not germane to your magazine, I would like to make the following comments. You obviously put a lot of effort and thought into it, but I believe it is more emotional than a thorough look at all the facts.
“Please consider that if a person intends to shoot co-workers, he is not worrying about breaking laws. A deranged person probably carries the gun from home and does not store it in the car. As despicable as it as, you cannot enact laws to protect us from everything. People can commit violence with knives, cars and baseball bats.
“Storing a gun in the car does nothing to affect the workplace. The owner probably wants it for protection on the trip home. The surest way a person can protect himself is to possess a gun. You can call the police (if you’re able), but by the time they arrive, it’s just to clean up the mess and try to find the guilty parties. My cousin lives in Indiana and legally carries a .45 in her purse. She is a responsible person, does not get into trouble with the law, and is also confident going about her daily business unafraid.
“Illinois is one of only two states that do not allow residents to carry a concealed weapon. Read our local papers and see what you think of the daily killings here. Vermont has no laws prohibiting carrying of guns. When is the last time you read about gun violence in Vermont?”
-Harold G. Cohon, Morton Grove IL
“In reference to your editorial in the August issue, you make some great points, and I’m angry alongside you on many of them. But, I would ask you to think about it the other way, also. If people are allowed to have guns at the workplace, then perhaps the next time one of these cowards decides to commit one of these horrible acts, there may be a someone with access to a gun who can stop or at least minimize the tragedy. We will never stop the madmen and criminals no matter what we do. And, police can’t everywhere at every second, so I’m all for doing anything we can to protect ourselves.
“If we give up some freedoms for a little safety, we will soon have neither.”
-Pete Noneman, Kwik Goal Ltd., Quakertown, PA
“I can only imagine the e-mails you will get regarding your misguided editorial about leaving your guns at home. I’m sure many others with more time and eloquence than I will correct you.
“I used to feel the same way you do. I even opposed conceal and carry laws, which most states have now.
“However, I have changed my mind over the years. I now know that if someone is going to break a law, they will probably break many. For example, look at places, such as Washington, DC, that have outlawed guns. Those places have the worst crime. Criminals there break the law once by obtaining illegal weapons, and they break the law again by committing crimes with them. When you disarm law-abiding citizens, the lawless seem to thrive. I agree that a private business has the right to ban guns from the building, but never should they or anyone else have the right to ban a legal item from one’s car or other personal property.
“In the stories you cite, workers broke the law and our moral beliefs by going to work and killing people at random or otherwise. Do you think that enacting a law saying you can’t keep a weapon in your car or on your person would have prevented them from committing their crimes? Obviously not! Even if your utopian dream of banning guns from our cars could be legislated, it would be nearly impossible to police and pointless to do so anyway.
“I believe businesses should allow their workers to carry guns if they wish. I’m sure most would-be gunmen would think twice if they knew their potential victims were legally carrying firearms for self-defense.”
-Aaron Johnson, senior process engineer, Minnesota
“In your August editorial, you are saying that companies have the right the deny people the right to protect themselves on the way to and from work. Oddly enough, I think the 2nd Amendment guarantees that right, and companies don’t have the right to restrict it.”
“I’m glad you were only expressing your opinion on the subject of guns in the workplace, because you certainly did not present a factual article. The places in the United States with the most stringent gun control laws are also the places with the highest homicide rates. Conversely, areas where the citizenry have ready access to guns have the lowest crime rates. We recently lived in Washington, DC, and it is a scary place. Fewer legally owned guns do not equate with safety.
“It would have been nice if you had presented statistical data to support your opinion, making it more than just an emotional reaction to shootings in the workplace, which horrify us all. But, it is not the guns that did the shooting, and we do indeed have a right, according to the constitution, to carry guns. I would note that keeping a firearm locked in your vehicle in the parking lot is not having a gun in the workplace.
“I grew up in Texas. Shotguns in pickup trucks were common sight at my high school. My fellow students often went hunting before coming to class. It was not unusual to see the same thing around town. My parents and grandparents have locked gun cases in their homes. I was taught to use a gun when I was old enough to be responsible. Though I do not own one now, my siblings do. I was never worried about being harmed by guns or their owners. However, I would be glad to have them come to my rescue if someone attempted to harm me in the parking lot of a mall or started shooting at the workplace.”
“I read your editorial with disdain. Do you seriously believe that most gun owners would ever consider using their firearms for workplace revenge? There are 223 million firearms in the United States and 774 workplace homicides annually. These numbers aren’t even close to each other, yielding the chances of getting killed by a gun at work at almost zero. Also, if you are willing to shoot someone who upsets you, do you think you really care about following a “no firearms” policy anyway? Finally, what is going to stop someone from legally parking in the public street right next to the workplace parking lot, and using their weapons then?
“Contrary to popular belief, personal firearms have many uses, the least of which is murdering people. The vast majority of firearms owners use their guns for hunting, shooting sports and self-defense. With the long hours I put in at work, I typically leave my job and go right to the field or trap range. Taking an extra 40 minutes to go home and grab my firearm just isn’t the cards for me, and many others at my employer share the same tactics.
“There are 62 million cars in the United States and 43,000 car-related deaths annually. Compare 62 million vs. 223 million, then 43,000 vs. 28,000. Your numbers on firearm violence in the workplace just don’t add up. Crazy people do crazy things. It’s not the fault of an inanimate object, but a person’s psyche that is the real issue.
“Great magazine. Keep up the hard work.”
-Sam Messina, Polaris Industries
“Regarding your August editorial, it is an entirely inappropriate subject for ASSEMBLY magazine. I will leave it to others to point out the gaping holes in your logic. But, I do not read ASSEMBLY to get Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s view of gun control.”
-Keith Saxe, owner, A & J Services