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Fear is the only thing to fear

Alex Blair | Monday, October 4, 2010

The moment I heard that there was a gunman on the University of Texas the cacophony of the law school commons faded away. All hope of catching up on my reading was forgotten.

I did my undergraduate work at Texas. I lived in a dorm adjacent to the library for four years. I still have friends and family that go to school at Texas. My cousin studies at the library every morning, but she decided not to that morning.

I sympathize with Ryan Williams’ clarion call in last Thursday’s Observer (“A safer world without guns, Sept. 30) for an assault weapons ban. My issue with his reasoning is that “freedom from fear” is impossible. If we want a world where we are largely free to make our own choices, then we must accept that someone may chose to pick up a gun with malice in their heart. If a choice is forced between freedom and safety, let’s err on the side of freedom.

Motivated individuals don’t need extraordinary firearms to wreak havoc. If Williams were ever to visit the UT, I would encourage him to stand in the plaza in front of the iconic tower. In front of him would be a statue. Williams could walk to its base, crouch down, and put his finger in the bullet hole there. That bullet hole was caused by an ordinary, bolt-action hunting rifle. This particular rifle was used by Charles Whitman to kill 13 people in a shooting spree from the top of the tower on August 1, 1966. Williams’ own example, the Virginia Tech massacre, was committed with two pistols.

My point in writing this letter is not to argue for freedom to own assault weapons. Rather, I would like to conclude with a call for reason before we restrict our freedoms. If we allow fear of violence to be our sole arbiter, then I have given Williams justification in banning all guns. Whatever the Founding Fathers intended, it was not that. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had another quote about fear that it is appropriate to close with — the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Alex Blair

law student

Fischer Gradudate Residences

Oct 1