WJ's biased coverage blames guns, not criminals

Opinion

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I take offense to the nonsensical logic applied to the protest at Bell's Gun Shop, and the lack of unbiased newspaper coverage exhibited by wednesday journal (Villagers take anti-gun battle to the source," Feb. 16). This latest attempt to blame the actual firearms for the crimes in which they are used is simply another example of the contemporary American thought of shifting blame away from the true source. In the history of firearms I have never heard of a gun committing a crime by itself. Behind every gun used in a felony is a felon. However, nowhere in the article has the UPAJ placed the blame on the criminals who use firearms!

As a news source, wednesday journal should have some commitment to open and unbiased reporting. However, the journal has jumped on the bandwagon and attacked Bell's Gun Shop based on its physical appearance using such descriptions as "low-slung brick box," and "mini-fortress." There is a shooting range inside for God's sake! Would the journal rather see the shooting range housed in an architectural masterpiece of glass walls juxtaposed against a beautiful public park? Bell's appearance has absolutely nothing to do with the issues, and the journal ought to be embarrassed. Furthermore, the current ownership of Bell's Gun Shop is not the same as it was in the reference range of 1996-2000, but yet the UPAJ sees nothing wrong in passing judgment on the current ownership which I think is appalling.

There is no reason to doubt the statistic that 738 guns purchased at Bell's were used in crimes. That number may sound very high, and it probably is. However, there are very few establishments in the greater Chicagoland area that are legally allowed to sell firearms. As places like Breit & Johnson here in Oak Park were shut out local governments banning firearms, it is no surprise that sales of firearms at places like Bell's would increase. Another consideration is that firearms that were once purchased at Bell's can be legally sold to other holders of the Illinois State Firearm Owner's Identification Card.

I have spoken to many anti-firearm advocates about gun control. One of the biggest misconceptions in my opinion is that if firearms are taken out of the equation that somehow violent crime will go away. Nothing is further from the truth. It is the people who have no regard for the law who are not affected by legislation, and who will not hesitate to acquire an illegal firearm. If a violent criminal can't acquire a firearm, he or she will commit similar crimes with knives, sticks, pepper spray, or their own hands. The real problem we need to focus on is the cause of violence.

I believe it is about time for people to start placing blame where it belongs. It saddens me to read about people who can't open their eyes long enough to see the real problems of American culture. Until guns themselves start committing felonies, let us realize that there are humans who pull the trigger the same way a drunk driver steps on the gas pedal.

I believe that the UPAJ owes the current ownership of Bell's Gun Shop an apology. I also believe that the journal should publish an apology for alluding to some semblance of guilt based solely on the physical appearance of a place that should be well built and generally inaccessible to the masses. Finally, please begin to understand that if we Americans teach non-violence, tolerance, and do what we can to encourage economic opportunity for all, that gun violence will deteriorate. And that personal accountability is a virtue; passing judgment on Bell's Gun Shop for something a felon did with a firearm that was once purchased there is absurd and unacceptable in an ethical and moral society.

Deno J. Andrews
Oak Park

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