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Letter: The time for action is now

The gun used in Newtown was a Bushmaster AR-15, a military style assault weapon which is essentially a civilian version of an M-16. Such weapons are not tools for hunting or self-defense, they are high-powered instruments of destruction designed to kill and maim human beings. What is the social utility of allowing the general public access to such weapons? Does it in any way make our lives better? There is also no legitimate reason for lawful gun owners to possess high-capacity ammunition magazines like those reportedly used in the Newtown tragedy.

The gun lobby has responded to renewed calls for sensible gun laws with a variety of familiar but inherently flawed arguments. Given that the gun lobby is largely funded by firearms manufacturers, it is not surprising that their most common contention is that the solution to gun violence is more guns. Under this “Wild West” theory, the solution to mass shootings is an even more heavily armed general populace capable of defending themselves with equal firepower or deterring violence in the first place. As an initial matter, compelling educators to carry concealed weapons while teaching young children is an absurd notion. And the evidence demonstrates that the theory that more guns makes us more safe has zero validity. In the U.S., firearms are the most numerous and gun laws are the most lax in the South, which is also the part of our country with by far the highest violent death rate. In contrast, gun laws are the toughest in the Northeast, which has the lowest violent death rate in the country.

Unfortunately, banning assault rifles or high-capacity ammunition magazines and other more sensible gun control laws by themselves are unlikely to prevent all senseless horrors like unfolded in Newtown. Mass shootings do occur in other parts of the developed world, albeit with much, much less frequency than in the U.S. But the empirical data indicates that more rational firearms laws will, at the very least, reduce the everyday rates of gun violence in this country. At long last, the time to implement such common sense public policy that will keep us all safer is now.

Jeffrey Kuhn,

Bethlehem Town Board member

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Comments

tombaker 1 year, 9 months 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.

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Keith 1 year, 7 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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