On Friday, Feb. 15, 2002, Ellen Ratner, in her WorldNetDaily column Liberal & Proud, wrote on the subject of “Reality education: Guns and sex.” I will comment only on the guns portion of her column.

Ms. Ratner and I agree on one point: Education is necessary to save lives. Second Amendment Sisters advocates firearms education, not only for school-aged kids, but for gun owners as well.

Where I don’t agree is that the schools should do the educating and the method by which that should be accomplished. Parents (remember, those people who are responsible for the upbringing of their children) should see to it that children are taught about firearms, by a program of their choosing – not the anti-gun-biased public-education system.

Furthermore, showing children pictures of what a 9 mm round actually does to human flesh at point blank range is not the same as showing the mangled bodies of drunk drivers, or the lungs of smokers. Drinking and smoking are choices people make for themselves. Being a victim of a criminal is something that is done to you.

Ms. Ratner suggests that victims of gunshot wounds should go on tour and discuss their experience. I suggest that survivors of violent crimes should go on tour, but especially ones who have survived because they chose to defend themselves or their families by the most effective means possible – a gun. Or better yet, those who are crime victims because they were denied the opportunity to defend themselves due to laws passed against gun-owners in the name of “safety.”

I suggest Ms. Ratner speak to Mary Carpenter, who had three grandchildren pitch-forked to death, or Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, who saw her parents and others murdered in a crowded Luby’s Cafeteria. I also suggest Ms. Ratner speak to the assistant principal at that school in Paducah, Ky., or two of the students at that law school in Virginia, or a pizza store owner in Edinboro, Pa. There will be about 400,000 people this year alone whose lives will be saved because of guns, and I’m sure some of them would be willing to talk to Ms. Ratner!

Ms. Ratner’s admitted hatred of guns seems to have caused her to confuse gun-owners with violent criminals. Perhaps her hatred of guns prevents her from seeing the reality of the matter.

The reality is that while gun ownership is at an all-time high, accidental firearm deaths are at an all-time low. In 1996, there were only 21 accidental gun deaths for children under age 15, while nearly twice as many children under 10 years of age die from drowning in bathtubs. Even one child dying from any accident of any kind is one child too many – prevention of accidental deaths is why SAS advocates firearm safety education.

Another reality is that guns in the hands of private citizens are used to prevent crime an average of 2.5 million times each year. This fact has been substantiated by at least 19 studies in the past few years. This number breaks down to just over 6,800 crimes which are prevented each day. Rapes, aggravated assaults, kidnappings and killings are prevented every day because ordinary people have chosen to defend themselves using the most effective means possible – a gun.

While Ms. Ratner hopes that one day guns will be illegal, there are at least 2.5 million people each year that cherish their freedom to own a gun. These people have faced the reality that the police, as great as they are, cannot be there when a crime is being committed. It is called self-defense for a reason.

Self-defense is a basic human right – that’s the SAS motto. Every human being has this basic right, but the freedom to exercise this right is determined by where they live. In the United States of America, we have a document that gives us the freedom to exercise our rights – it’s called the Bill of Rights.

I have to agree with Ms. Ratner on one more point: Life isn’t like a movie. However, I have to take things one step further: Life isn’t what you see on the nightly news either!

In their quest to get higher ratings, news outlets have taken the “If it bleeds, it leads!” attitude and this skewing of the news presents guns only in a bad light. As Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, found out, guns are used far more often to save lives and prevent crimes.

Maria Heil is a mother of four and a gun-owner. She is part of the all-volunteer force that makes up Second Amendment Sisters. Mrs. Heil is the national press coordinator and legislative liaison for SAS. She has had articles published in Women & Guns magazine and Gun News Digest, among others. In addition, Mrs. Heil has also been a guest on radio and TV shows throughout the nation, as well as internationally in both radio and print.

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