Peter Albertson: Drastic action for drastic gun problem


BELMONT, CA. — Here's a draconian approach to gun control I have not seen anywhere else. It's certainly a more drastic proposal than most other anti-gun people have suggested.

Clearly, my proposal will surely not be acceptable to the anti-gun control lobby, as exemplified by the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, National Association for Gun Rights, and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Those organizations have even opposed more careful examinations of people's mental history. Or controls on people who beat their wives as a matter of course. Or those who are known to have major problems with anger management, or other psychological issues that might make them more prone to gun violence.

I have read that 40-45 percent of American households own guns, or 40-45 million people. That's a lot of legal guns floating around our country.

Far worse then Europe

Let's take a look at gun ownership in a few other industrialized nations. The following information on gun ownership and deaths. In some cases, the figures are a combination of information from more than one year and then averaged for a historical list of countries by firearm-related death rate per 100,000 population in one year. The figures include suicides, accidental fatalities, and justifiable homicides — by guns.

Germany in 2010 had about 1.24 gun deaths per 100,000 population; Canada had 2.22 deaths; Denmark had 1.28 deaths; France 3.01; Italy 1.28; Switzerland 2.91; United States 10.5. Why is our gun death rate so much higher than most other industrialized countries? The only answer, it seems to me, is that there are so many guns in this population's hands.

Criminals are more likely to carry a guns if they suspect potential victims may be armed. A survey of men in jail by the Inter-University Consortium on Political and Social Research reported that they often carried firearms to deter victims from resisting; and 75 percent reported carrying a gun while committing a crime because "there's always a chance my victim would be armed."

Gun ownership, and especially guns with high-capacity magazines, frequently turns murder into mass murder. Mother Jones magazine investigated the statistics and found that high-capacity magazines were used in at least 50 per cent of the 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012.

David H. Chipman, senior vice president of Public Safety for ShotSpotter and a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agent, says that a high-capacity magazine "turns a killer into a killing machine." And we know that some gang members use high-capacity magazines, with 30- or even 90-round clips to compensate for lack of accuracy and maximize the chance to harm. When high-capacity magazines were used in mass shootings, the death rate rose 63 per cent and the injury rate rose 156 per cent.

How we can do better

With all of that as background, here are my "outrageous" suggestions: 1) Get rid of all handguns in the hands of ordinary people, like you and me. 2) Get rid of all high capacity magazines in ordinary, non-professional peoples' hands; they are merely instruments of greater death and destruction. Don't even allow them on rifles used for hunting. 3) Let's institute far more effort and energy to stop the illegal importation of all guns. 4) Let only people who can demonstrate that they are hunters for sport or food keep rifles (without high capacity magazines).

Now, if these proposals bring anger down on my head — even from one of my best friends and someone in my own family — so be it. I don't want to be afraid of a kid on the street, a terrorist, or even a neighbor.

I know the mantra: We cannot prevent guns from coming across our borders. Maybe we can't prevent that smuggling entirely, but we can surely do better than we have been.

Peter Albertson is a resident of Pittsfield.


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