Wednesday February 6, 2013

Finally, America's gun problem is getting some needed attention. To understand this problem rationally several untrue or inaccurate assertions by gun proponents need to be examined.

The claim that a gun in the home makes one safer has been disproved by numerous studies. Guns in the home lead to far more domestic homicides and accidents than to deterrence of burglaries or assaults. There are accurate records that prove this.

Next it is claimed we need guns to deter governmental abuse and repression. History shows this to be nonsense, as individuals with guns cannot deter a well-armed military and our Constitution was written to prevent this kind of government. When Shays Rebellion took up arms against a weak new United States it was quickly subdued by government troops. Our current military is far more competent.

The mentally ill are the latest targets in the debate over gun control. It is true that a significant number of shootings are by people felt to be mentally ill, but most mentally ill persons are not dangerous. Britain, Australia and New Zealand all have similar numbers of mentally ill and similar treatment options as we do but gun violence in these countries is very low. The only difference is the limited availability of guns in these countries, especially semiautomatic weapons. We do not need to take people's guns away. We do need to limit where they can exercise their gun rights.

Handguns used for target shooting could be kept at ranges where they are fired. I shot in competition for several years and kept my guns locked at the range rather than at home with children. Hunting rifles are usually not a problem and are mostly kept locked at the owner's residence. Semiautomatic weapons could be kept but only locked up at ranges designed for these weapons.

Finally the major obstacle is the NRA. Its director, Wayne LaPierre, is a fanatic as dangerous to this country as any terrorist. The NRA opposes any reasonable action. An example of this attitude is Mr. LaPierre's testimony before Congress. He stated that a major problem is that the government does not enforce background check legislation allowing people to get guns who should not have them and in the next breath opposed extending these checks to gun shows that allow many to buy guns with no background check. This type of inconsistent argument is typical of the NRA and its refusal to endorse even reasonable preventive measures.

We need to move forward with well thought out reasonable controls or the next massacres will be in part our fault. BENJAMIN GLICK

New Ashford