In his recent column (“Shielding those with concealed firearms also benefits unarmed,” Feb. 22), M.D. Harmon presented arguments (perhaps unwittingly) in favor of requiring that all firearms owners be licensed.

He pointed out that “gun-free zones” don’t prevent crime: “The only real function of so-called ‘gun-free zones’ is to tell potential criminals that no law-abiding person there can offer any effective resistance.”

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But he argues that possessing a firearm does prevent crime, saying a “federal study showed firearms are used more than 100,000 times a year to prevent criminal actions, most often without a shot being fired.”

Mr. Harmon also indicated that gun owners with permits are the most responsible and for the most part least prone to gun violence: “The percentage of permit holders who committed gun crimes averages less than a tenth of 1 percent.”

These arguments suggest that choosing to possess a firearm for protection is justified, but a permit to do so should be required in order to ensure that the gun owner is a responsible individual, and that access to their firearms will be limited in order to reduce (or prevent) the possibility of gun violence.

The right to bear arms is not a birthright. It is a right to be earned and carries significant responsibilities to deserve it.