Stick to the facts when debating gun control

April 02, 2011

From the very first paragraph ("America: armed and dangerous," March 28), the tone and bias of the author's mindset was clearly anti-gun, and that is OK. However, like so many other anti-gun types in the U.S. he is much on rhetoric and little on facts, which is highly irregular since the author is an academic himself and therefore should know the value of facts and data over emotion.

Unfortunately, the author has fallen for the same word games that for many began with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Campaign emerged from Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), originally the National Council to Control Handguns (NCCH) and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV).

NCCH was founded in 1974 by Dr. Mark Borinsky, a victim of gun violence, and became HCI in 1980. On June 14, 2001, Handgun Control, Inc. was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence after it was decided that so many American were turned off by the term "gun control" that they should eliminate it, as have many of the current anti-gun groups. Their own internal memos caution against using the term "gun control" and advised using "handgun safety" and similar terminology in order to sound less threatening.

In his most recent op-ed in Arizona, President Obama used the same "gun safety advocates" term to describe gun control groups, and this is one of the reasons that the NRA is refusing to sit down with him and those groups. In reality, those so-called "gun safety advocates" want nothing less than the following, as quoted from then-chairman Nelson "Pete" Shields: "We'll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily — given the political realities — very modest. We'll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again. Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns, is going to take time. The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal."

Those are not the words of a safety advocate but of an abolitionist. America's gun safety advocates are America's law-abiding gun owners who train and learn how to keep and maintain guns, safely and legally.

But let's get back to my original premise, the lack of data. All too often in America's gun debate, the facts are left out. Arguments are devised with "˜common sense" (remember what Voltaire said: "Common sense is not so common"), emotion, what ifs, and other useless foundations. I would urge you as an academic to look at the real facts and hard data regarding guns, gun use and crime in the U.S. There is much to be found, from criminologists such as Gary Kleck from the University of Florida, economists John R. Lott Jr. and Jeffrey A. Miron, the FBI and DOJ's own crime data statistics and a multitude of testimony from law enforcement officials to Congressional and Senate committees over the years. The list goes on and on.

There will never be a law that can banish random acts of horrible violence such as the recent shootings in Arizona. Fortunately, these incidents are rare, and many believe that the results of even these rare shootings could have been mitigated had a trained, armed person been present. The Senate testimony of Dr. Suzanna Hupp having to helplessly witness her parents being murdered at a Luby's Restaurant in Texas because she was obeying the current law and had left her handgun in her truck is particularly heartbreaking.

Please examine at least some of the hard data that is readily available from non-political, unbiased academic and law enforcement sources. Then try and make a reasonable opinion. It will be difficult, as it was for me, but as a medical professional, I have to look at data and facts, not what I think will work or want to believe.

Stephen A. Bonning, Baltimore

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