America's love affair with guns deals real death in a pretend world. Florida awaits the trial of the so-called "Stand Your Ground" killing of a teenager by a volunteer neighborhood watchman who always wanted to be a cop.

In Connecticut, a legally armed man, aroused by a frightened neighbor, shot and killed his own son, who by appearances wasn't up to any good. Both situations could have been handled by the police who are trained to stop, question and apprehend people, using deadly force only as a last resort.

We have been conditioned by movies, television and videogames to believe in a fantasy world where an armed person is a kind of superhero -- a Dirty Harry keeping the world safe from the bad guys.

But in reality, armed citizens rarely prevent criminal acts, and when they do intervene, they tend to use deadly force as a first choice. We can speculate that an armed citizen would have made a positive difference in any of the all-too-many violent crimes we experience in our country, including the recent tragedy at Accent Signage Systems.

But that is illusion, not reality. It's time to strengthen and enforce licensing, and make it more difficult and expensive to buy huge quantities of ammunition, perhaps by adding a steep insurance premium on ammunition for handguns ("Easy access to ammo gets fresh scrutiny," Oct. 3). And to make it legally clear that vigilantism is not acceptable in a society of laws.