Editorial
Home-Front Arsenals

 
   
Wednesday, October 10, 2001; Page A22

THE TERRORIST attacks of Sept. 11 have sparked dramatic increases in gun and ammunition purchases around the country, particularly by women, older citizens and first-time gun buyers. "Compared to what it used to be, this week is like someone kicked an ant hill," a gun appraiser at a shop and shooting range in Pompano Beach, Fla., recently told the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. "Business is up about 90 percent. They're wanting basic handguns for protection, and they're also looking for basic instruction." Requests for concealed weapons permits are up as well, according to authorities in a number of states.

Given concern about how well air marshals and cockpit crews need to be trained in firearms use, how safe will people really be in their newly armed neighborhoods, surrounded by edgy people with guns at the ready but little or no weapons training? It's hardly calming. Anyone loading up for the first time ought to at least undergo thorough firearms safety training; more often than not, this won't happen.

More likely are reports of ill-stored weapons discovered by children. In Spotsylvania County, Va., a 3-year-old fatally shot himself Sept. 15 with a handgun that his father said he had brought into the house for protection after the terrorist attacks. According to the county sheriff's department, the .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol was hanging on a window curtain rod above the child's bed.

Advocates of armed self-defense point to other news reports of people pulling out guns and fending off attackers, but many studies -- and common sense -- point up the far greater dangers of having handguns in the home.

 

2001 The Washington Post Company