Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear editor,

We are Boy Scouts from Weston Trap Club Troop 435. We are working on our merit badge for communications, which is required for us to become Eagle Scouts. 

Our merit badge asks us to, “write to the editor of your local newspaper to express your opinion or share information on any subject you choose. Send your message by email.” We were encouraged to consider topics which have been in the national news. After some discussion, we chose to write this email to express our opinion for continued protection of an individual’s right to gun ownership. This letter was prepared by us without input from our adult leaders and/or parents. 

We believe further restrictions on gun ownership and other gun control policies could have the unintended consequence of hurting more people than it would help. We want to begin by sharing why we choose this particular topic and how additional gun restrictions could affect us each.   

We choose this topic because our families are gun owners. We know the dangers and the respect you should give to guns. Our families both hunt so we understand the impact  further restrictions might have had on your youth and the important lessons which were conveyed through the handling of guns. We also chose this topic after learning about recent riots in several major American cities. This made us contemplate what would happen if we were in the middle of a riot or some other terrible event. 

We know guns are capable of doing a lot of harm. There have been too many horrible incidents which might have been stopped if law abiding citizens who wanted to protect their community had been carrying a gun to defend themself or others. 

However, we also know of stories where guns have saved lives. Because of this awareness, we found it interesting to learn about a recent study that has shown defensive gun use is higher than criminal firearm use. 

According to research from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published by the CDC, there was a range of 500,000 to over 3 million defensive gun uses in 2013. That same year, there were 11,208 firearm homicides and 414,562 nonfatal illegal gun uses, according to the CDC and National Justice Institute. 

If this study is accurate, it would appear to us that guns might be responsible for saving more lives than they take. Therefore, we think guns can protect us. Guns are the great equalizer for no matter your race, gender, or physical ability, a gun can make you equal to your attacker. We wonder if further limitations on ownership of certain guns will only detract from those saved and add to those who have died. 

Letter composed by:

Collin Weller, 16; Alex Weller, 14; Xavier Guild, 14; Ryan Weller, 12