, Gloucester, MA


January 15, 2013

Letter: Changing the dialogue to 'gun safety'

To the editor:

Would it be beneficial if the discussion about guns shifted from “gun control” to “gun safety”?

It may seem like a rhetorical question, but such a shift in focus could go a long way in actually getting us on a track to find constructive ways to address the issue of gun violence in America that enhance public safety while also protecting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding American gun owners.

Despite the fears the NRA stokes among some of its members, there is no evidence the gun tragedies of 2012, and Newtown in particular, are being used by the Obama administration in some kind of insidious plot to completely disarm the citizenry — no evidence whatsoever.

Early reports suggest some of the “gun safety” measures for which the administration will advocate include universal, standardized background checks on all people seeking to buy guns in all venues, stopping ammunition sales on line, better coordination between law enforcement and mental health providers, and a frank discussion about the violent themes that dominate so much of the television, film, and video game industries.

Universal, standardized background checks would be expanded to include sales at unregulated gun shows and between private buyers and sellers.

Such checks are not currently required.

That makes it possible for a person who is on the federal no-fly list, for example, to purchase guns in those settings without having their no-fly list status brought to light — something that would have happened if they tried to buy a gun at a retailer like Wal-Mart.

The case for banning the sale of ammunition on line can best be made by remembering that the disturbed shooter in Colorado last summer bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on line and no red flags ever went up. And better coordination between law enforcement and mental health providers is essential but somewhat tricky because many mental health professionals have legitimate concerns about their clients’ confidentiality.

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