Saturday, January 19, 2013
I wish to comment on Annie Capestany’s letter to the editor in a recent U-B. She suggests several things our government could require to reduce gun crime, i.e., background checks on all sales, extensive training, safe storage of firearms and better care for the mentally ill.
I completely agree with her that all of these things are valid measures that should be implemented, especially keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.
However, she goes on to suggest that certain other measures should be adopted that make absolutely no sense, i.e., ban automatic firearms and limit magazine size. The National Firearms Act of 1934 effectively banned the private ownership of automatic firearms — aka machine guns. Today, with few exceptions, only the police and the military can possess automatic firearms.
So I’m assuming that when Ms. Capestany states we need to ban automatic firearms, she’s actually referring to semi-automatic firearms such as those that were used in the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Newtown shootings. Most shotguns, pistols and rifles sold today are semi-automatic. Banning the sale of these types of firearms would be next to impossible unless a complete ban on the sale of firearms were to be imposed.
Banning the sale of large capacity magazines would do little to prevent gun crimes, including mass shootings. Having spent three years in the Army, including one year in Vietnam, I can attest to the fact that it takes only a couple of seconds to eject a magazine and reinsert another. Anyone who doubts me should view this demonstration on YouTube (bit.ly/11q38HQ).
Ms. Capestany also states that we should adopt firearms legislation similar to that adopted in Australia, where “homicides and suicides have dropped more than 50 percent.”
In recent years a number of research papers have used time series analysis to assess possible impacts of Australia’s 1996 gun laws. Overall, no study has found evidence of a significant impact on homicide. The findings for suicide are equivocal and inconclusive.
I would support any law that would have prevented the Newtown shooting or any other mass shooting, but banning the sale of semi-automatic firearms and removing them from the hands of the law abiding will do nothing to reduce gun violence. Such heavy-handed laws would, however, leave the law abiding at the mercy of the criminal element, which will not surrender its guns if a ban is imposed.