The writer of a March 6 Times "Viewpoint" column stated that the current debate on gun safety should be "based on facts, not emotions." I agree, but, after reading this writer's column a couple of times, I noticed that most of his so-called "facts" (including his silly claims about "emotion" as a factor in proposing sensible gun regulation) were nothing more than the same, tired "talking points" delivered by NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre at last weekend's CPAC fibfest in Washington.
OK, let's talk facts! Since the horrific Dec. 14 massacre of 20 elementary school students and six administrators and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been nearly 3,000 gun-related deaths in the USA. Over 1,057,000 persons have been killed in gun-related incidents since John Lennon's death in 1980. The Sandy Hook killings took place between 9:35 and 9:49 a.m. The shooter fired 152 rounds of ammunition. Because he carried five 30-round magazines for his Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, he was able to kill all 26 persons in less than 14 minutes. The kind of ammo used by the killer explodes on impact, thereby destroying bone and tissue, killing the victim instantly and rendering the victim's remains unrecognizable. Weapons such as the AR-15 used by Adam Lanza are easily obtained at most sporting goods shops, discount stores, gun shows, and online. Forty percent of all gun sales do not involve any kind of background checks. This is called the "gun show loophole."
While cities like New York City and Chicago have strict gun laws, firearms are obtained elsewhere via "straw purchasers" who legally buy large amounts of these weapons at gun shows in less regulated areas like Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Gary, Indiana (15 minutes from downtown Chicago) and sell them illegally to gangbangers in urban areas. The route these gun traffickers use on the east-coast is called the "I-95 Pipeline." This fact is why the states alone cannot effectively control illegal gun sales, and why a nationwide law is needed to keep these weapons out of the hands of criminals and lone-wolf psychos.
In his own somewhat "emotional" defense of gun-owner rights, the "Viewpoint" writer also dodged the fact that Section Two of the 2007 "Heller v. District of Columbia" Supreme Court ruling stated that "the Second Amendment right is not unlimited and is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose ... the court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt upon longstanding prohibitions on the possession of weapons by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places like schools or government buildings, Ore. laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." Despite the writer's silly nitpicking, and overheated and inaccurate rhetoric from "libertarian" zealots or Congressional demagogues like Ted Cruze (R-TX), none of the "rights" included in the Constitution are absolute or without some restrictions. For example, citizens have "freedom of speech," but they are not allowed to threaten the lives of state legislators in places like Colorado who have voted for gun control laws (this has happened several times in recent weeks). If one requires a "logical" reason for common sense gun safety legislation, one can't do better than cite what "Mr. Spock" (Leonard Nimoy) said at the end of "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" - "Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or of the one!"
Here are a few more facts ... None of the provisions (i.e. universal background checks) proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein or Vice President Biden have been declared "unconstitutional" by any courts! Ninety-one percent of Americans favor universal background checks. Fifty-eight percent of Americans favor banning assault weapons like the Bushmaster XM-15. 83 percent of Ohioans favor background checks and stricter laws regarding gun purchases at gun shows. Eighty-five percent of Americans favor laws like those in New York State and Colorado that ban high capacity magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Ninety-five percent of Americans favor making inter-state gun-trafficking a federal crime. Even a recent FOX News poll showed that 74 percent of NRA members favor universal background checks. The NRA leadership spent around $300,000 during the 2012 campaign supporting seven pro-gun-lobby candidates, only one of whom won. Despite this, many so-called "public representatives" in Congress (in both parties) still seem to fear a NRA backlash more than they fear public outrage over these ever-more-frequent mass killings. This might be a mistake! If elected representatives (of either party) care more about insuring profits for the gun-manufacturers than they do about the pain of the families of the victims of gun violence, they do not deserve public-support.
There are many kinds of "emotions." "Anger" and "righteous outrage" are appropriate (and purely human) emotional responses to the senseless murder of innocent children. Opponents of common-sense gun-legislation are venting their own kinds of "emotions" as well.
Fred O'Neill lives in Marietta.