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March 9, 2013

Column on guns led to a barrage of (mostly) jeers

By Sam Pollak
The Daily Star

---- — You know, I’m beginning to suspect that perhaps there was not universal agreement regarding what I authored in this space three weeks ago.

Surprisingly enough, my little bit of prose telling folks not to worry about the government storming into their homes to take away their guns engendered a good deal of intellectual discourse.

“Bleep you. Bleep your mother,” emailed one gentleman, who actually employed a much more colorful word than “Bleep.”

What the fellow might have against my sweet, 91-year-old mom who lives in New Jersey, I don’t know.

My column got picked up by several newspapers around the country, and one reader was thoughtful enough to send it to a right-wing website. In all, responses to the column passed 200 within the first week.

Some were quite nice, actually.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” wrote one woman. “Your recent column on how nobody is coming to take anybody’s guns was outstanding. It expressed sentiments I can’t speak out about as a reasoning person who lives in Texas. Again — thanks for saying it so well.”


“Just finished reading your article on guns in the Joplin Globe. It’s great to finally see truth in media. I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading it and keep up the good work!”

But the kudos were far outpaced by the brickbats.

“You are a idiot,” was all one emailer wrote. I couldn’t resist replying that what he said may well be true, but at least I know to use “an” instead of “a” before the word “idiot.”

This one from Tonawanda, N.Y., was rather typical of those I can quote without having to wash my mouth out with soap.

“Dear Sam, your sarcastic rant really made my blood boil. You are the editor of a newspaper? You don’t know the facts or you are just blinded by your liberal views. The main purpose of all these gun laws is to outlaw all firearms. If you do not know that, you are one of the dumbest reporters going. There I go. I swore that I’d try and keep it nice. But with some people, I just can’t.”

Several writers mentioned a bill offered in the Missouri legislature that would confiscate some weapons. The fact that it was presented by just a few Democrats in a state with Republican majorities in its House of Representatives and Senate makes its passage about as likely as me getting elected president of the NRA.

Plenty of emails and comments insisted that I had been wrong when I wrote that the victims of the Newtown shootings were killed by “a maniac using an assault rifle.”

A gentleman in Joplin named Beeler and I had an interesting exchange.

“Mr. Pollak,

“You state in your editorial that a rifle was used in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Since it has been widely reported that no rifle, assault or otherwise was used in the Sandy Hook shooting ... and since you make a living reporting the news, you have to know that no rifle was used in Sandy Hook. Yet you still state in your nationally published anti-gun column that an assault rifle was used. You sir, are a liar.”

I responded.

“Dear Mr. Beeler:

“Have you seen that commercial about believing everything you see on the Internet? The one where the guy says he’s a French model and the woman believes him because it’s on the Internet? Well, Mr. Beeler, before you believe something you see on the Internet, I’d like to make the following suggestion.

“Before you accuse someone of being a liar, you should get your facts straight. The fact in this case is that the AR-15 WAS used to kill all 26 people in Newtown. This is according to the Connecticut State Police.”

I sent Mr. Beeler a link to the Connecticut State Police media conference at which it was stated unequivocally that all 26 victims were shot with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, and he was classy enough to reply:

“Mr. Pollak,

“My apologies for calling you a liar, I had bad information. …”

Nice guy. Passionate, worried about the effect any legislation might have on the gun display cabinet business he had been in “all my life. (Dad started it in 1954.)”

We could probably be friends, not unlike the friendship I value with Daily Star conservative columnist Chuck Pinkey, who happily took me to task in his most recent column.

Sadly, I received several emails from people who almost seem to be itching to shoot anyone sent by the government to take their guns.

“… I can tell you this,” one of them wrote me, “IF, they try to take them in any manner, we will be ready. Write that.”

OK, I wrote that. Kinda scary.

But then again, there’s really nothing to worry about. Scary, irrational, fear-driven fantasies never do come true.

Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at