Letter: We need a sensible discussion about gun control in America

Posted 9/11/19

In the past several weeks there were three letters in the Phoenix dealing with gun violence. This is a serious problem that requires dispassionate discussion, a discussion based on fact not emotion. …

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Letter: We need a sensible discussion about gun control in America

Posted

In the past several weeks there were three letters in the Phoenix dealing with gun violence. This is a serious problem that requires dispassionate discussion, a discussion based on fact not emotion. It requires a discussion that includes common sense and a respect for Constitutional rights.

When advocates for gun control state that the proliferation of automatic weapons and high capacity magazines is one of the root causes of the epidemic of mass shootings … the credibility of this argument suffers. Automatic weapons are illegal in the U.S. and have been since 1986.

The weapons used in the majority of mass shootings have been semi-automatic weapons. Virtually every gun in America, including pistols, is a semi-automatic weapon. High capacity magazines, as noted, are a problem. Other than making them illegal and increasing penalties, curbing their use is a challenge. 

As for these assault-style weapons being “one of the root causes of the epidemic of mass shootings” one has to ask why there were not many more mass shootings 50 years ago when semi-automatic guns were numerous and much more readily available. The answer may have to be found elsewhere. 

As a footnote, the worst school shooting in U.S. history (Virginia Tech) involved pistols, not the so called “assault weapons.”

The red flag laws mentioned in one of the articles may be a step in the right direction, if done in a manner that protects individual liberty. Additionally, it is not helpful to this discussion to include unhinged remarks about President Trump’s impact on mass shootings or general gun violence. This approach does little but polarize the issue.

The so called epidemic of gun related violence is not tied directly to our lack of rational gun regulation. If we were to eliminate gun murders from just six of the most violent cities in America, our international standing on deaths by guns would improve dramatically. Any “sensible” gun control measure that preserves the ability of criminals to access guns while restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans is not rational regulation.

The issue of the 2nd Amendment and a well-regulated militia has more to do with citizens being properly trained in the use of arms than being a member of a militia organization. Additionally, article 22 of the Rhode Island Constitution is clear. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” To argue that the 2nd amendment is intended to enable domestic terrorism and the unabated murder of our children, innocent citizens and minorities by white supremacists is not helpful and not even rational. 

When a gun control advocate argues that an AR-15 is a military weapon intended for one purpose: to kill humans rapidly and with certainty, one concludes that such statements were made by individuals operating in an alternative universe and who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

It is important to note that the notion of an epidemic of gun violence is false. Gun homicides have fallen almost 50 percent in the last 30 years. Nevertheless violence, including gun violence, needs to be reduced, but any policy must demonstrate that it will not restrict individual liberties and that it will actually make a difference.

Michael T. Byrnes
Bristol

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