Goldrick’s tone not productive in debate on gun violence

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

Everyone regards gun violence as a serious problem. We deserve a serious debate on how to reduce, if not eliminate, it. But Sean Goldrick’s recent column is not part of such a debate. Instead, its tone and content reflect an ideological preference for largely symbolic legislation.

Mr. Goldrick disparages those who disagree with him. His use of quotation marks subtly mocks “law-abiding” citizens he regards as gun-obsessed. He states “all guns are dangerous” and “the more guns there are in a community, state or country, the more people get shot.” One thus suspects his preferred solution would be to confiscate “all guns.”

Useful discussions about reducing gun violence must recognize that the Supreme Court has twice recognized and upheld an individual right to bear arms, notably those “in common use at the time.”

The overriding policy objective must be to keep guns away from mentally ill or unstable persons and criminals. These are the people who are the real threat to society. The profile of mass shooters (obviously troubled individuals addicted to violent video games) demonstrates this beyond any reasonable doubt.

It’s encouraging that assisted outpatient laws and programs are showing progress in mitigating gun violence. Much more work still needs to be done, however, to identify and deal with the type of person likely to commit these horrific crimes.

Regulating guns, including outright bans, will not by itself solve the problem. A federal study concluded that the expired Assault Weapons Ban did not result in the desired effect. Washington D.C.’s 30-year ban on carrying or even keeping guns at home for self-defense, was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And while the ban was in effect, D.C. experienced a horrifying increase in violent crime. Chicago has stringent gun-control laws; its murder rate is a national disgrace.

Mr. Goldrick makes no mention of common-sense steps (stop and frisk laws and mandatory sentences for gun-related crimes, for example) that have been successful in reducing gun violence.

We must deal realistically and comprehensively with the problem in a way that will protect us all, without abridging the rights of people who pose no threat to society.

 

John Raben
Greenwich

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