After reading Sgt. Tom Mason's May 13 guest viewpoint, "Self-defense is a right and an obligation," I'm glad his fellow officer was able to save his life by heading off the van that might have ended it, and grateful for his years of service protecting an unarmed citizen like myself. That said, I do not agree that owning a gun for self defense is a right and obligation.

Imagine a society where all citizens were allowed to carry guns of virtually any firepower that they chose. Actually, we don't have to imagine it. We live in one now, and the casualty rate continues to climb: 17 dead in Parkland, 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary, 58 in Las Vegas, and no end in sight.

We gave up the right to dispense our own justice from the muzzle of a gun in order to live in a civilized society. We trust our police and courts to protect us or face the kind of chaos you can find in failed states such as Syria. I will feel safe only when neither criminals nor law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry guns, because no one really knows which is which until the bullets start flying.

Donald M. Brasted-Maki, Eugene