Guns kill people, revisited

This is in response to Stuart Baker’s Jan. 24 letter to the editor, “A misguided gun control agenda.” As I read his letter, I immediately perceived that it was influenced by information from the National Rifle Association’s website and printed literature. And it was.

Sir, I don’t state ignorant assertions, and the purpose of my letter to the editor was not to state which guns should be banned. This week Congress will begin to discuss the gun issues. So let’s wait and see what develops over the next month, and let’s see how President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden approach the issue.

I must admit that Baker has a sense of humor. He used Gary Kleck’s research from 1997 to claim that 2.5 million times each year people lawfully defend themselves from criminals — this would mean an average of 6,700 times a day, 50,000 a week and more than 200,000 a month. How many people do you know who have used a gun to defend themselves? Kleck’s research is flawed.

He also claims that the Department of Justice and National Research Council concluded that the assault ban had no effect on reducing the number of violent crimes. I am familiar with this report, and it is incomplete. I suggest Baker listen to Tom Brokaw’s interview with President Bill Clinton about the Brady Law’s contribution toward reducing violent crime. Clinton said it gave us a 35 percent drop in gun crime, and the number of murders fell by 29 percent from 15,463 to 10,977.

What is most troubling about Baker’s response to my letter is that he does not address the mass murders at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora and Sandy Hook. He seems more interested in gun competition and hunting. These activities are important, but not as important as the well-being and safety of the American public. Law-abiding citizens do deserve the means to defend themselves, but neither the good guys nor the bad guys should have assault
weapons.

I have a suggestion: Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and his associates should tour sites of mass murder and talk to the victims’
families.

I agree with Baker that improving the data in the National Instant Background Check System will save lives. I assume Baker agrees with me that background checks should occur in purchasing any firearm and all guns should be registered.

I still believe that it is time to revisit the Second Amendment with the needs of American citizens in mind.

Former Harvard Law School Dean Erwin Griswold had this to say: “To assert that the Constitution is a barrier to reasonable gun laws, in the face of the unanimous judgment of the federal courts to the contrary, exceeds the limits of principled advocacy. It is time for the NRA and its followers in Congress to stop trying to twist the Second Amendment from a reasoned (if antiquated) empowerment for a militia into a bulletproof personal right for anyone to wield deadly weaponry beyond legislative control.”