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I am writing in regard to Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt’s (R) Dec. 26 letter titled “There are Better Solutions than Gun-Free Zone Policies” [The Calvert Recorder]. In his letter, Mr. Slaughenhoupt states that bipartisan discussion is needed in the wake of the horrific slaughter of children and teachers in Newtown, Conn., and advocates the posting of armed guards (and appears to advocate the expansion of concealed carry laws) in response.

I come from a rural background where firearms were a fact of life. I learned at an early age to safely handle rifles and shotguns, and I grew up enjoying hunting and target shooting. In the military, I carried weapons daily in the performance of my duties. Safe weapon-handling was stressed routinely, and training was rigorous and constant. Despite this, accidents still happened, weapons were unintentionally discharged, and innocent people were injured and killed.

There is risk attendant to carrying any firearm — by anyone — anytime, anywhere. No matter how much training is provided, accidents can and will happen, and innocent people will be injured (or worse). I do not have ready access to studies examining this, but for now, let’s just consider the basic, cold probabilities: As horrific as mass shootings are, how many people in any given time period or population have been injured or killed en masse by an armed assailant, and what are the odds of that happening to any one of us? (Again, there is no way to feel anything but the utmost sympathy for those to whom the unthinkable has happened.) Now, how many people yearly are already being injured or killed by accidental firearms discharges, shootings resulting from inflamed passions and ready access to a weapon, etc., and what will that number grow to, if concealed carry laws are modified and large numbers of civilians (who previously did not carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise) begin carrying?

We Americans expect our elected lawmakers to consult experts, engage in bipartisan debate and enact legislation to address this problem. In the meantime, I respectfully suggest we all carefully consider what we wish for. There is no easy, one-shot solution, and the “arm lots more people” proposal is — I believe — an ill-thought response to the heavily-armed mass shooter problem. I know I can safely carry and use a firearm — hand gun, rifle or shotgun, concealed or not — but there are many decent, law-abiding people whom I would not trust to do the same. The Second Amendment grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms; what too many of us forget or choose to ignore, however, is that along with this right comes a responsibility: to use firearms safely, and to prevent their use by those who cannot or will not do the same.

Joseph Lester, Solomons