John Lewis Gaddis, 1 April 1999
One of the difficulties with weapons is that they do not automatically self-destruct once they have fulfilled their function. The problem particularly afflicts Americans who, taking advantage of lax gun-control laws, tend to buy whatever they think they need to defend themselves. But as the danger recedes, they frequently forget about the lethal arsenals they have accumulated. Stored carelessly in closets and sock drawers, an appalling number of rifles, shotguns and handguns are used for purposes that their owners never intended. The means of defence outlive the need for it, often with disastrous results.