GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 15, 2013

Letter: Changing the dialogue to 'gun safety'


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — 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.

But again, the cases of the shooters in Colorado and Arizona demonstrate for all to see just how important better coordination between law enforcement and mental health providers is if we are going to prevent mentally unstable people from legally buying guns.

Likewise, people need to speak out in opposition to the NRA’s applying political pressure on judges who are elected to restore the gun rights of individuals who had those rights taken away because of mental health issues, often with no psychiatric evaluations being done before those rights are restored.

In addition, the assault weapons ban being re-introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the banning of magazines that hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition, and military style handguns, are sensible safety measures that in no way infringe on the Second Amendment rights of anyone.

Think about it. Where in the Second Amendment does it say any civilian has the right to own an assault weapon just because they exist?

The NRA’s fear mongering has as much to do with protecting the interests and profits of the gun and ammunition industries as it does the Second Amendment rights of law abiding gun owners.

No one is advocating for the disarming of the citizenry.

These sensible measures are much more about “gun safety” than they are “gun control,” and it is long overdue that the discussion be framed that way.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester and

Vieques, Puerto Rico