Letter: Focus on safety

To the editor:

Thanks to David Reber for illustrating the parallels between misuse of guns and abuse of alcohol in this country (Public Forum, Dec. 22). He performs a service by pointing out another one of our blind spots. But having shown us the parallels, Reber lapses into histrionics, which serve no purpose but distraction. To quote Mr. Reber: “Tell the parents of 5,000 booze-killed kids how your selfish need for convenient drinking trumps their kids’ lives. Then wipe the blood off your bottles and shut up about my guns.”

If this were a moral contest, maybe Mr. Reber would win. We drinkers are arguably just as selfish as gun owners, maybe more so. But this is not a moral contest, or at least it shouldn’t be. We should be talking about how to make our country safer for ourselves and our children. And if safety is truly our goal, political expediency must trump moralistic finger-pointing.

For the first time in years, we may just have the political will to ban the sale of assault weapons — without loopholes. This is no small deal. Banning the sale of assault weapons would make it harder for unstable people to get access to them, hence could save lives. I have not heard a single reason why a ban would be harmful. Our focus on guns, as opposed to alcohol, may seem unfair to responsible gun owners like Mr. Reber. But throwing this chance away, just to honor a distorted sense of fairness, would be truly unfortunate if not immoral.