Who needs 'open carry' guns?

Guns in public view… guns loaded or unloaded… guns at the Starbucks counter… if you’re a supporter of the Brady Center, the current activism of the pro-gun folks is less than encouraging. And who exactly needs all this swagger?

Several interesting comments about gun-toters and gun stats appeared in the Letters section of today’s San Francisco Chronicle in response to goings-on of the “Open Carry” Movement:

In 2006, guns murdered 10,177 people in the United States, while 18 people were murdered in Austria, 27 in Australia, 59 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 190 in Canada, 194 in Germany, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

It is estimated that there are 283 million guns in America. We are the gun capital of the world.

It was George W. Bush who noted that an American teenager is more likely to die from a gunshot than from all natural causes of death combined.

Another reader suggested that

the “open carry” intentions of the gun-obsessed would surely lead to myriad examples of the law of unintended consequences: shootings and deaths as well as a sort of John Wayne psychology that belongs in movies, not our parks, streets and highways.

If Starbucks or any other business allows citizens with guns in their businesses, you and I should take our business elsewhere.

But perhaps the most on-target letter writer went straight to the main issue: what’s with the people who feel the need to stride around town showing off their hardware?

I searched in vain in the story about the “open carry” gun movement for the exact benefit of walking around in public with a gun on your belt – when everyone knows the guns are not loaded.

Since the guns are of no use in defending oneself or anyone else against, the “threat of violence” and the “desperate people” whom (advocate) Jeff Dunhill sees everywhere, I tried to imagine some other reasons:

a) It’s cheaper than a sports car; b) You can prove yours is bigger without risking arrest; c) It’s all that you can be.

I’ve never understood why, if guns are so central to their self-image, people like this don’t join the military or law enforcement. Unless it is because in those instances, the other side also has guns. It’s a lot safer to swagger up to the bar and demand a caramel frappuccino grande.

Letters to the editor

A Life-or-Death Decision in Australia

Australian Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled Friday that quadriplegic Christian Rossiter has the right to end his life, if he chooses, by starving himself to death. Of all difficult medical-ethical issues, this has to be close to the top. I do not applaud the decision, do not support suicide (though I strongly support the right of a mentally competent, terminally ill adult to hasten his or her own dying) and hope Mr. Rossiter changes his mind. He may well do so now.

A series of injuries combined to make the 49-year-old a spastic quadriplegic last year. Mr Rossiter, once a keen rock climber and adventurer, told the Supreme Court his life was once exciting and enjoyable.

But the reality of his situation is far from that now.

Unable to move other than wiggle one finger or toe, unable to take nourishment except through a feeding tube, Mr. Rossiter asked his caretakers, Brightwater Care Group, dozens of times to remove that tube. They went to the court for an answer, and the answer has now come. But Mr. Rossiter is talking to his doctors and says he may change his mind. Should he stick with the decision to remove the feeding tube he will not, in truth, be “committing suicide;” he will be allowing natural death. (In the U.S. he would qualify for hospice care.) Either way, the choice should be his.

There are no winners or losers in this tragic tale. But there is something heroic in one man’s determination to keep control of his own destiny. I admire his gumption, and wish him well.

Quadriplegic Christian Rossiter now has control of destiny | PerthNow.