Griswald: You raise some interesting issues. Unfortunately, you quickly make a mess of most of them, relying on some assumptions common among authoritarian/liberals. But I'm not attacking you personally. Ad hominum arguments are so easy to slip into, and so pointless. You say that private ownership of arms is no defence against a repressive government, because the govt. need only declare martial law, and that would be the end of effective resistance. For an easy refutation of that notion, see Iraq today. Or remember the USSR about 15 years ago. One of the strongest, most repressive regimes in human history tried the "tanks in the streets" approach, and failed. How do you think it would work here, in a nation of more than 100 million gun owners (and using National Guard units headed by young Billy Bob, who was de livering your newspaper a few years before)? You used a cliche: "The only thing handguns are good for is to kill people." To which the answer is: DUH! This requires clarity of thought and control of emotion, but sometimes killing somebody is the very best thing that could happen. (Ask a cop how he feels about cleaning up the aftermath of a violent confrontation, where it's the homeowner/pedestrian/female/senior citizen/car owner who is shaken and perhaps injured, but alive, and the would-be home invader/mugger/rapist/disgruntled ex-spouse who's inside the chalk outline.) The right to life is the most fundamental of rights, without which all other rights are meaningless. Handguns aren't the best tool for premeditated agression (think: if you were actively hunting an enemy, wouldn't you choose more firepower than that?) but they are portable, and like portable pensions and medical coverage, are a good thing. Police are reactive; they're not bodyguards. As with most other aspects of human life, we're responsible for our own personal safety. It's not enough to be safe in one's own home, and legally vulnerable to "What's in your wallet/bra/gullet?" when out in public. Gun ownership and possession is very much about the personal, about what's most important to you. (Driving, on the other hand, beyond your driveway, is civic in nature, done on public streets and roads. And by the way, there's no active lobby to deny other citizens the right to drive.) Certainly, gun ownership and use requires an acceptance of stringent responsibility. And yes, many of our citizens aren't capable of that. I don't think it's possible to limit gun ownership to the level-headed and self-controlled. But careless use of firearms, although it can produce tragedies, isn't a major risk. Accidental shooting rates were never high, and have declined in recent decades. Obviously, the real risk is from those among us who use guns with malice aforethought. And here's something that can be done about that: Possession of firearms by convicted felons is forbidden, for the most part. But it's never enforced, as a practical matter, until after the next crime, when the harm is done. Why not subject all discharged felons to lifetime "audits?" Every police or sherrif's dept. should have a few officers who inspect the homes, bodies and cars of ex-cons at any time, without notice. That should reduce the possession of guns among our criminal class, with a corresponding reduction in homicide rates.