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The Breakup: Lives are sacred, guns aren’t
Patricia Hewitt
Patricia Hewitt

Patricia Hewitt

Local columnist

Last summer, my grandson and I were having breakfast in one of our local restaurants when a man entered wearing a very large holster with an equally large gun in it. For a second, I froze and then my mind jumped into action. What is he doing in here with that gun? Does he look menacing? How can I protect my grandson if he starts shooting?

The man took a seat thankfully, with no harm done, but the sense of unease remained and I got us out of there as quickly as I could without alerting my grandson. I knew that the laws of our state allow open carry without any background check or permit, so my fears weren’t irrational. In fact, the guns laws in our state are some of the laxest in the country. This may be why the ATF reports that in 2021, 14,467 guns were recovered that traced back to guns purchased in Georgia.

This is not a fact about our state I can feel proud of. In fact, after experiencing a close encounter with open carry, it makes me ask the question: Who’s protecting me and my family from the wrong guns getting into the wrong hands? What about our rights to live in a safe environment, free from fear of random violence?

These are difficult and fraught questions in a state like Georgia where gun enthusiasts and hunters are plentiful. Guns are also big business in Georgia, with Daniel Defense for example, right in our backyard. Living here has given me a new appreciation for the sport of guns and I know many people that responsibly keep a gun for personal protection or as a collector. Some even argue that the mere presence of guns makes everyone safer, but more on that logic later.

Yet, guns by definition, are objects of violence. They are designed to kill or harm living beings. In particular, high-capacity firearms take this one step further in their capability to quickly and efficiently massacre large numbers of people, something we’re seeing happen with increasing frequency across our nation even though these weapons are intended for use in war.

Let’s look at that argument that more guns are better. The logic goes something like this: If everyone has a gun, we’ll be better protected from gun violence because if someone starts shooting, there’s plenty of guns to shoot back. Therefore, people will be afraid to use their guns irresponsibly and as a result, everyone is safer for it. But what if the bad person has a semi-automatic rifle and the good person has a tiny pistol? Well, with this logic we should all be carrying semi-automatic rifles around just in case. None of this makes sense to me.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, an online database that compiles gun violence statistics across the country, there were 648 mass shootings and 36 mass murders in the U.S. in 2022. Among these have been the random slaughter of children in their schoolrooms. If this doesn’t make one wake up to the fact that we do not need more, bigger, faster, more powerful guns available to anyone that wants one at any time, I’m afraid we have already conceded the moral high ground on this issue.

What does make sense to me is to accept the fact that more guns increase gun violence and therefore, more guns are not the answer. What is part of the answer are common sense gun laws that outlaw high-capacity, especially military grade, firearms which have no place in our communities, which are not war zones. Couple this with comprehensive licensing rules that require the user to demonstrate their knowledge of safety practices (especially for younger gun users) as well as closing background check gaps and we might begin to get somewhere in creating a safer environment for all our citizens.

Public safety is a thing dear reader. It’s something we all participate in, like not driving around drunk or putting handrails up staircases or demonstrating some level of proficiency and knowledge of safety rules before we get a driving or boating license. And yes, it means we must sometimes compromise our desires to those of the greater good. Lives are sacred, guns are not.

Patricia Hewitt is an almost-retired professional living in Richmond Hill. She currently serves as Chair of the Bryan County Democratic Committee. Patricia can be contacted at

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