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Letters to the Editor and Others

DEA Agent Shoots Himself in Safety Class

5/3/04

Dear Orlando Sentinel:

RE: "DEA agent shoots himself in safety class" (4/30/04), sometimes unintentional lessons are the most effective.

The article quotes one woman present at the gun safety class for children, with her nephew, that ".after seeing that, my nephew doesn't want to have anything to do with guns." It is unfortunate that the agent had to suffer an injury to demonstrate that guns are anything but safe.

According to The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

* The costs of gun violence, both direct (medical costs) and indirect (loss of productivity, mental health treatment and rehabilitation, legal and judicial costs), to the US, are over $100 billion annually.

* 57% of suicides in 2000 were completed using a firearm.

* Over 50% of family murders are caused by firearms. Firearms assaults have been found to be 12 times as likely to result in death as non-firearms assaults.

* A gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting (4 times), a criminal assault or homicide (7 times), or an attempted or completed suicide (11 times) than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

In this incident, a trained drug enforcement agent shot himself with his own weapon, after mistakenly thinking he unloaded it AND after having a man in the audience checking the same weapon and mistakenly determining it was unloaded. Despite statistics demonstrating how many people are injured and killed by firearms, those who profit from and/or enjoy firearms continue to promote them.

Many gun control advocacy organizations and legislators ignore the group most victimized by guns - animals. These ethically short-sighted groups and individuals, when advocating against certain weapons (such as assault rifles), make a point of not including hunting weapons. Millions of animals, annually in the US, are maimed and killed (frequently suffering lingering deaths) for recreation or supposed population control - though hunting creates or exacerbates every problem it claims to resolve.

"The agent was speaking to the youths about making good life choices," states the article. Hopefully, every child present learned that "good life choices" never include weapons.

Susan Gordon, Representative
Wildlife Watch

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