YES, THIS IS another editorial about guns -- and yes, the killing Friday night of Dr. Michael Halberstam, a prominent man in the community, is an obvious occasion to bring up the subject of guns again. So is the killing last night in New York of musician John Lennon. But there are occasions all the time in our midst: over the weekend and again yesterday morning in the middle of downtown others were dying by gunfire while their friends and neighbors continued to live in constant fear of it. And the stories of gun deaths will keep on crossing our desk.
Saturday's toll included these reports: on a playground at 20th Street and Benning Road NE, 23-year-old Tyrone Reese of Gales Street NE was found dead, shot in the left side; at a gasoline station on Burroughs Avenue NE, 15-year-old Fitzgerald M. Giles was hit with a blast from a shotgun during a dispute with a friend. And yesterday, during an armed robbery of a bank at 1325 G Street NW, a customer with a gun opened fire on the robber and then was killed in an exchange of shots. Should these deaths -- and the next one, and the one after that -- be dismissed as an inevitable part of life in a metropolis, or cited as reasons for people everywhere to arm themselves in self-defense?
No; at some point enough people will see through the insanity of a gun-toting society and will demand tough, sensible -- and effectuve -- controls on gun traffic. Already, more and more Americans are calling for stricter laws to control the sale and ownership of guns; they are seeing through the highly financed and self-serving propaganda of the gun-makers and lobbyists who falsely portray any effective gun control measures as infringements on individual rights. But whose "rights" are protected when practically anybody can buy an arsenal of deadly weapons?
The promoters of guns love to repeat the simple-minded refrain that "guns don't kill people; people kill people." But, as Dr. Halberstram noted in his television commentary only a few weeks ago, "handguns make it a lot easier -- too easy." No single jurisdiction can control the gun menace, either; the manufacturing of and traffic in guns need uniform controls, enacted by those members of Congress with vision and courage enough to recognize that "gun controls" do not mean stripping away any traditions of the West, or any other part of the country, for that matter. On the contrary, those very rights, and the people who cherish them, deserve to live in the peace that sensible firearms controls could help to maintain.