Ban Handguns in City, Region and StateAfter reading the...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

September 02, 1995

Ban Handguns in City, Region and State

After reading the Aug. 14 article saying handguns are the weapon of choice for city crimes, I am surprised that all of the gun stores have not been immediately closed and their deadly wares confiscated and destroyed.

I cannot think of another product that is legally sold to the public in stores, that when used as intended cause serious injury and death. The main purpose of a handgun is to shoot people.

If a handgun is used to hunt deer or some other type of game animal, I do not think that there is any forest for hunting in Baltimore City. The bottom line is that handguns are used to hunt people.

As we know, crime in Baltimore is a very serious problem. It seems that every day we read and hear about another shooting or murder over drugs, money, arguments and other petty issues. We are heading for another 300-plus homicide year in the city. This doesn't include homicides in the surrounding counties.

Most of the homicides are committed with handguns of which almost half can be traced to seven sources in and near to the city.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms study showed that during the course of one year the Baltimore City police recovered 3,546 guns that were used in crimes.

That's almost 10 guns per day! The study also showed that 60 percent of the guns confiscated by the police were purchased from federally licensed firearm dealers.

The study also contains some seriously flawed logic. It says ''the city's problem is not dealers selling guns to criminals, but the resale of weapons.'' This logic is flawed because before a gun can be resold or given to a criminal, it is usually purchased from a licensed dealer. Therefore, the dealers are the source of 60 percent of the city's gun problem.

It would logically follow that if you eliminate the selling and purchasing of handguns in the city and surrounding counties, you may be able to reduce the homicide rate by 60 percent also.

Melvin Abrams, owner of the Valley Gun Shop, says that there is no fault on him for selling guns as long as the applications for purchase are checked by the Maryland State Police.

However, the study showed that 34 of the traceable guns recovered by the city police were sold by his store.

Even if the state police are checking applications, the guns are still being used in crimes and his and the other six shops mentioned are at fault because they are the source of the purchases.

The obvious solution for eliminating approximately 60 percent of crimes committed with handguns in the city is to eliminate the source of 60 percent of the guns: the dealers. Baltimore City should immediately ban the sales and purchases of all handguns.

Washington, D.C., has a ban on handgun sales, but it is still one the nation's murder capitals. D.C.'s gun ban is useless because people simply go to Maryland and Virginia to get their guns.

Likewise, a ban on gun sales and purchases in Baltimore would be equally ineffective unless the surrounding counties enacted a ban also. Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Harford and the other nearby counties must work together with the city to make a gun ban effective.

Handgun crime does not stop at the city line. On the very same page as the handgun article, there were five other police blotter articles describing shootings and assaults with handguns in the city, Baltimore County and Delaware.

If a region-wide and a state-wide handgun ban were enacted, the 200-300 extra policemen promised by both mayoral candidates could be used to enforce the ban and to eliminate the illegal gun sellers who would almost certainly pop up the day after a ban is enacted.

I do not wish to deprive any legitimate hunter or sportsman of the right to have a rifle or any other type of weapon for hunting; however, I must ask for what sporting or hunting purpose does one purchase a .38 caliber revolver or 9-mm semi-automatic pistol? If there is an answer to that question, it cannot justify 300 murders per year. Nor do I wish to deprive anyone of their constitutional right to bear arms, but that right is killing more than 300 of us here in the city each year.

In closing, I urge the local governments to enact an immediate ban on handgun sales. Let's not study the problem anymore. We know what the problem is and we must act now.

Every one of these deaths by handguns is preventable. To the thousands of Baltimoreans who agree, we must unite to solve this problem.

If there is a citizens group that is organized to combat this problem, I would like to join your cause.

Carl M. Highsmith

Baltimore

Reproductive Rights and Population in China

Whenever a columnist writes a disparaging piece about China's often brutal population policy, I feel a need to ask that writer to explain how China could support a much larger population. In The Sun Aug. 22, Mona Charen presented a harsh denunciation of China's family-planning police.

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