To the editor:
At a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on gun safety bills, the NRA sent a representative to oppose the bill which would clarify that local police chiefs had the authority to use their discretion when issuing a concealed carry gun permit.
As it stands, the Rhode Island law requires that an applicant must show proof of certain conditions and that she/he is a suitable person in order to obtain such a permit. Law enforcement knows the citizens in its communities, they know if there have been multiple calls to a home for domestic violence issues, they know if someone has a mental health issue, or that an individual has a drug or alcohol issue. The discretion provided in the law allows the police chief to make the call on who might be a threat to health and safety if allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.
In arguing that there should be no discretion, the NRA representative cited surveys which he said showed that concealed weapons had prevented over 2 million crimes and said that states which had the highest percentage of firearms ownership had the lowest death rates and crime rates. That is simply not true. He relied on a “study,” presumably by John Lott, whose study has been widely discredited by every researcher who attempted to replicate it. Professor Lott, when no one could replicate his data, claimed he could not provide his data because his computer crashed.
Here are the facts.
The US Department of Justice website cites studies showing that there are fewer gun deaths per capita in states with stricter gun control provisions, such as background checks, bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups and child access prevention laws. For example, combined Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, with stronger gun laws and 25 percent of household gun ownership have 25 percent of the gun fatalities of Alaska, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi and others with weak gun laws. This shows a direct correlation between prevalence of guns and gun fatalities, with four times the household gun ownership and four times the gun fatality rates.
The US National Library of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health show that having a gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher and accidental death four times higher.
The NRA receives millions of dollars annually from the gun industry whose goal is to sell as many of their products as possible. They have weakened laws to allow access to guns by criminals, terrorists and mentally impaired individuals and now try to convince us that the only way to protect ourselves from the criminals, terrorists and mentally impaired individuals is to arm ourselves. It is a business plan that should be taught in every business school in America. Unfortunately, this business plan kills 83 Americans every day.
Here is a rebuttal source for the NRA’s claim that guns stop crime over two million times per year: http://www.vpc.org/press/1304self.htm
There are several excellent gun safety bills being heard and considered in the General Assembly. Among them are House Bills 7310, 7587, 7583 and 7585, as well as Senate Bills 2242, 2622 and 2815.