Letter: The time for action is now

Editor, The Spotlight:

Mass shootings like the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut have become a seemingly regular occurrence in our country. Within the past year alone, lone gunmen have gone on homicidal rampages in a theatre in Colorado, a house of worship in Wisconsin, a mall in Oregon, a college in Oakland, and a coffee shop in Seattle. While these events have become infuriatingly common, what happened in Newtown was especially disturbing. There is no greater crime than violence against children. And a parent’s loss of a child under these circumstances must be one of the single worst experiences a human being can endure.

These catastrophes defy explanation, and doubtless the causes are multifaceted. A renewed discussion of the way our society treats those with mental illness is welcome. But deranged individuals exist in every country on earth – and yet mass shootings (and gun violence generally) occur far more often in the U.S. than any other industrialized democracy. The difference is here the mentally disturbed can access weapons of mass destruction with much greater ease than comparable countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, or most of the states of the E.U. There are approximately 310 million non-military guns in this country of 314 million people. There is thus about one civilian firearm for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. Ours is a society awash in guns.

What results from the ubiquity of guns in our country? Unsurprisingly, there is a strong positive correlation between the number of guns in a society and the gun homicide/violence rate. The U.S. has the twelfth-worst rate of firearm related deaths in the world. No comparable country is even close. Canada’s per capita firearm homicide rate is less than a third of ours. The U.K.’s per capita rate is 1% of that in the U.S. As maddening as these figures are, they confirm that, unlike natural disasters, gun violence is a societal problem that we have the power to stop or at least radically reduce. We just need the political will to implement sensible gun laws.

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tombaker 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm afraid that I must take very strong exception to certain parts of this article.

1) "Bushmaster AR-15, a military style assault weapon which is essentially a civilian version of an M-16."

Completely false.

An M16 is a "fully automatic" firearm. Such a firearm will discharge repeatedly will one pull of the trigger. It will continue to fire until either the trigger is released, or all the rounds in the magazine have been expended. This is the only kind of firearm that is considered an "assault weapon".

The AR 15 bears a cosmetic resemblance to an m16, but it functions completely differently. The AR 15 is a semi-automatic firearm. It expends one round with one pull of the trigger. To fire a second round the trigger must be released and pulled a second time, and so on. This is exactly how any semi-automatic hunting rifle or shotgun works.

2) "Such weapons are not tools for hunting or self-defense"

Wrong again. Such weapons ARE used for hunting, target shooting, in competition shooting contests, as well as for self defense. There are hundreds of Youtube videos available which back this statement up.

3) "they are high-powered instruments of destruction designed to kill and maim human beings"

This is the kind of wild-eyed hyperbole that leads to public paranoia.

4) "There is also no legitimate reason for lawful gun owners to possess high-capacity ammunition magazines"

Actually there is, for competition shooting, However for hunting or even target shooting I would not use more than a 10 round magazine which is the current legal limit in New York State anyway.

5) "compelling educators to carry concealed weapons while teaching young children is an absurd notion"

I would agree with this. We don't want intruders being engaged within the school buildings, and shots fired around the kids. We want them kept off the grounds completely. To that end I think a good solution would be to have fully fenced campuses with gated entrances. Put your security guards on the gate. If you can't show proper ID you don't get in. If you do show proper ID you still need to pass through a metal detector.

At the end of the day, there's that well known axiom that cannot be denied. "If guns are made illegal, only criminals will have guns". There is no legitimate reason to deny law abiding citizens the possession of firearms and there is a pretty good one to allow it. It's called the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.


Keith 2 years, 11 months ago

It's the aids epidemic all over. The media wants you to believe something, and by using fiction and off the wall statistics, emphasize the problems of America. Then the gullible reader, reads, and absorbs these "now are fact" statements, going into work the next day ready to do battle for the governor and his safe act.

Now, someone, anyone, explain to me, how a single law in this safe act will save a life. Without removing guns from the equation, it cannot be done.


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