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Time For A Meaningful And Respectful Exchange Of Ideas On Guns

To the Editor:

Last Saturday I attended a symposium at the Quinnipiac University School of Law called  "Gun Laws, Public Health and the Prevalence of Gun Violence: A critical look at an important balance." It brought together leading experts, practitioners and students to advance the larger conversation about gun accidents and injuries, public health and guns, mental health and guns, and the Second Amendment. The exchange of ideas was riveting, meaningful, and respectful. It dealt with a polarizing but critically important topic in a way that brought people together, and I applaud that accomplishment.

That kind of dialogue is needed in our town. Since the December 2012 tragedy, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has kept a low profile, not engaging with or contributing to the community in any way. I and a small group of local citizens continue to call attention to NSSF and its activities with letters and by standing outside their 11 Mile Hill Rd office building with signs on occasional Fridays. Usually there is no interaction with them, but on February 21, a high-level staffer engaged one of us in debate, and challenged us to come back to continue it the following Friday. We did return, despite the frigid temperatures, and were disappointed that not only did the person who previously challenged us not show up, but only one of the people exiting accepted our printed material with our views and invitation to dialogue. Had they had been instructed not to engage with us?

Could it be that the leaders of NSSF lack confidence in the integrity and correctness of their positions? I hope that the NSSF takes a cue from Kenneth Slater, Jr, local counsel to NRA in Shew v Malloy, (though expressing his own opinions not that of the NRA) who participated in the Quinnipiac symposium. An open, respectful sharing of views with the people of Newtown, perhaps in a forum such as that used last Saturday, could benefit us all.

Sincerely,

Barbara Richardson

31 Osborne Hill Road, Sandy Hook             March 4, 2014

More stories like this: guns, NSSF, gun violence

Comments

Re: Why Not Now

Brian,
I totally agree with you that gun rights and gun safety should not be mutually exclusive. Education on gun safety and personal responsibility promoted by the gun industry are important but insufficient solutions. Childsafe locks: good, but how many gun owners are using them? I don't see NSSF funding any studies to find out. There are many for sale on EBay. Safe storage options: vital. Mandates to require use are fought by the gun industry though. Would the large decline in car accident deaths in recent decades have happened if seat belt use was optional, or if car safety improvements were not made by the industry? The problem of gun violence is complex and affects far more than law-abiding gun owners. It IS the domain of public health. Many medical organizations and Surgeon Generals of the past have said so. Yet NSSF and NRA are demonizing Dr Murthy as an anti-gun activist for his main stream views. What kinds of solutions do you support?

As far as the CT laws, I support them, as do the majority of CT residents. If the Federal laws were stronger with a more unified standard, I'm sure state laws could be simplified. I acknowledge that the complexity of gun laws creates a burden for gun owners, but agree with the Federal judge who ruled the laws constitutional that the mandate for public safety outweighs the burden. See the following link to Quinnipiac's March 2013 survey: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/conne...
To summarize: By margins of 2-1 or more, Connecticut voters support most gun-control measures, with support for universal background checks at 93 - 6 percent, including 89 - 9 percent among voters in households where there are guns, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters support stricter statewide gun-control laws 66 - 30 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Support for specific measures includes:
68 - 28 percent back an expansion of the statewide ban on the sale of assault weapons. Gun owners are opposed 49 - 44 percent;
68 - 28 percent back a ban on the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. Gun owners are divided 49 - 48 percent;
72 - 27 percent back registration of all handguns, with annual renewal. Gun owners are divided with 48 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed;
63 - 31 percent, including 50 - 46 percent among gun owners, favor limiting handgun purchases to one per month;
85 - 14 percent, including 71 - 28 percent among gun owners, back a permit requirement to purchase and carry all guns;
86 - 11 percent, including 85 - 12 percent among gun owners, favor a gun offender registry for those convicted of gun crimes;
76 - 19 percent, including 65 - 32 percent among gun owners, back stricter gun storage requirements;
50 - 43 percent back mandatory liability insurance for gun owners, who oppose this measure 71 - 26 percent.

Re: Why Not Now

Barbara,

I am aware of the Quinnipiac survey. I am not going to argue that Connecticut leans hard liberally and in general supports gun control. But it is a big leap to go from a poll asking about general ideas to saying those same people support a hugely comprehensive and restrictive Act such as the one passed. Again, there was no public opinion poll on the Bill itself, and hearings on it were not conducted. While I know that doesn't prove anything, but it has to make you wonder why they felt so compelled to use emergency certification. Generally speaking (especially in politics) where there is smoke there is fire.

I think the struggle most people have when discussing gun control are the underlying assumptions. You asked me "What kinds of solutions do you support?". And that is a loaded question. Of course I don't oppose any 'solutions'. The fact that you this implies that your opinion is somehow superior and 'right'. And you are just trying to show me the path to righteousness. I know I might be reading a little more into a single question than I should, but it is a common theme from both sides. It's part of the reason it's just becomes more and more polarized.

For example, I don't think that assault weapon bans and magazine limitations are in any sort of way a solution. To illustrate why, I will state that I believe firearms are used defensively more than they are used to commit crimes. I know that is not a stone cold 'fact', but I have critically read up on the topic and find almost all signs indicate it is the truth. If you disagree with this, I am very interested to hear why.

This is a critical key when discussing gun control. You have to view defensive use separately from offensive use. Because if you think about it, laws like AWB and magazine limits will affect defensive uses at a much higher rate than offensive uses. I'm not saying they are absolutes. A magazine limit might have a slight impact on crime. But it will have a larger impact on defensive uses. This is simply because there is a larger percentage of offensive gun users who have renounced all gun laws.

This concept is difficult to type out, so if you don't follow it I can try to explain better.

We can go on for days discussing similarities and differences between cars and guns. I'm sure we have each heard it all, lol. But the big problem in discussing it all is that cars are regulated to the extent that you use them on public roads. Cars are basically lawless if you decide to keep them on private property. Every time I go into a thought process on cars vs guns - that ends up being the bottom line.

When you criticize the NRA and NSSF, all you are truly saying is that you don't like our political system. And I agree with you, it's flawed beyond repair. Organizations like Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns are equally as guilty. We have a system where lobbyist organizations make money by 'taking a position'. The fact that NAA and SHP are still fighting stronger than ever for gun control even after the laws passed in CT illustrates why NRA and NSSF take hard lines as well. It's the nature of the beast.

Personally, when you discuss safe storage, I do agree with CT's Public Act No. 13-3. I think they got that one right. There is not cookie cutter solution to it. If they were to require all guns to use a trigger lock, they are directly responsible for death's, rapes, abuse... etc when people are unable to access their own firearms. Again, all you would be doing is pulling your finger from one leaky hole to stop another leaky hole. This topic is largely driven by media hype. 99 times out of 100 you will find extremely safe storage procedures being practiced.

I honestly haven't dug much into the issue of public health. So far I have written it off as a meaningless game each side of the debate is playing. A fight for control. But I could be wrong and would be open to hearing more about it.

For the most part, I don't think that you (or most other gun control activists) are necessarily wrong. I think in certain areas, you are short sighted. But in the sum of it all, I know that you are trying to do good. You have good intentions and you want people to be safe.

Thanks

Hi Brian. I hadn't checked back until today on our interchange, and there's a good chance you will not see this reply, but I wanted to thank you for engaging in a dialogue on this tough issue in a respectful way. I in no way wanted to convey superiority with my question about what solutions you would support. I honestly want to know. I would love to hear how you have personally been affected by the new laws. How exactly have the laws impacted CT resident's ability to defend themselves? Have there been any incidents you are aware of where use of a high capacity magazine over 10 rounds was an essential part of a defense against home invasion? On what do you base your belief that guns are used defensively more than in crimes? While data on defensive use of guns is murky, you may be aware of a new organization called Gun Violence Archive that is committed to daily quantifying defensive gun use as well as other incidents, including home invasions, officers killed, murder/homicides, child deaths. The web site is gunviolencearchive.org. They take no sides on either side of the debate, and are open about their methodology.

I must disagree with your assertion that organizations like NAA and SHP that have emerged out of concern to prevent gun violence are equally guilty in the polarization of the debate. While there are a few extremists that want the 2nd Amendment overturned and all guns banned, they don't represent the positions of those organizations. Gun safety. Background checks on all gun sales. These are not "gun grabbing" positions. Limits on magazine capacity may not save many lives, but there is a good chance it will save some. Gun rights proponents, led by NRA and NSSF are much more extreme, and much more unified. This has gotten to a level where reasonable, responsible gun advocates are being intimidated from expressing their views (Dick Metcalf). Gun owners who are willing to talk, compromise and work towards public safety solutions are much to be respected for their courage.

The following is a quote from NSSF president Steve Sanetti as their lucrative Modern Sporting Rifle campaign was taking off in 2010: “We must recognize that an attack on one gun is ultimately an attack on all guns. We are all brothers in the fraternity of shooting. If we hold the line and the modern sporting firearm does indeed become the most popular firearm, as it's well on its way to becoming, it will be that much harder to ban, because there won't just be a few million, but many, many millions of American citizens legitimately involved in shooting activities with these kinds of rifles. We will then form a power base that no one will be able to defeat.”

I would suggest that members of the "Brotherhood of Shooters" may benefit from education in not just the safe use and storage of guns, but on their impact on human beings. Perhaps volunteering in a hospital emergency department to see the physical and emotional trauma caused by bullets in accidents and suicides as well as crime. Or volunteering with organizations supporting the mental health of traumatized children and families. Or helping to clean up crime scenes such as was left by Adam Lanza, a 90 lb weanie who couldn't have gotten in the door without that AR15 with its 30 round magazines that gave him the power to fulfill his fantasies of mayhem.

The pain of these situations is real, and is the reason that I, among many others, have been mobilized to seek solutions. We are not all the same, and not right in all things. There is much to learn from each other. Your sharing of your views, and your listening to mine, is appreciated.

Reply

As far as gunviolencearchive.org, there is a clear flaw in their methodology. You want me to believe that there are less than 1,000 incidents of self defense with a gun a year? It's nice that the website touts itself as non biased. But obviously it is either using deceitful or hugely flawed practices. I personally will not place any confidence in that website beyond a non-comprehensive tally of crime statistics.

I have personally been affected because I had to complete additional paperwork. Pay additional fees. Pay a notary. And I will have to pay additional fees and fill out additional paperwork for the rest of my life. My choice of firearms and features has been greatly reduced. I can no longer ask my wife to pick up some ammo while she is out. There is no telling how it will affect me in the future. Now that I have registered my possessions, who is going to guarantee that the information will not be abused in the future? But in all honesty, I wouldn't bat an eye at any of this if I thought this would have any sort of positive impact. But it won't. Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven are spiraling further and are in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the country. And none of it addresses mass killers.

A little while back I saw someone quote the 2013 CDC report on gun violence that Obama funded with $10 million. I read the report and this is the quote:
"Defensive Use of Guns
Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to
more than 3 million per year (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use."

This was in line with the studies I have read up on. I think Kleck's was overstated. And most other place defensive gun use above 1 million per year. If you would like me to post a link to some of the other studies I can.

I agree, background checks and gun safety are not extremist positions. But those lobbyist organizations (NAA & SHP) go WAY beyond that. Have you listened to Monte Frank, Dave Ackert, Po Murray, Nicole Hockley... ect talk about the topic. Whether on the news or in person. They are extremists. They claim they aren't fighting to ban all guns. But that doesn't make their self proclaimed 'common sense' any less extreme. They oppose public carry of firearms. They want all guns locked up at all times. They want to further restrict lawful use of guns even at gun ranges. They want to continually limit the type, capacity, features and so on. That is extreme. They are just as hard nosed and stubborn as any NRA or NSSF member. And let's not get into Moms Demand Action or Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

It's interesting that you list 2 things that are already law in CT as the non-extremist positions. We have universal background checks and gun safety requirements. If you and these organizations aren't extremists, then what is there to discuss? We already have strict gun control. I don't know how fighting for even more gun control at this point could be considered anything but extreme.

As far as magazine limits go: I am a strong believer that if it is standard issue for police, it should be available to the public. If 15 and 17 round magazines are excessive and 'high capacity' then why are police carrying them? Wouldn't that be excessive force? Police often carry assault weapons in their squad cars. We aren't talking special force or SWAT teams. Just regular everyday police officers who have access to assault weapons. I will also quantify that statment by saying that it is certainly appropriate for police to have access to more powerful weapons than a civilian. For example, I don't have a problem with the police having access to full automatic gun. That is not what I mean by standard issued weapons.

Individuals face the same threats that police do. Why should their ability to defend themselves be limited that much more? You asked "Have there been any incidents you are aware of where use of a high capacity magazine over 10 rounds was an essential part of a defense against home invasion?" There are countless examples of home invasions by multiple perpetrators. And there are many instances where civilians successfully protected themselves by firing more than 10 rounds. Of course it does not get the media attention that a school shooter gets. I can provide links if that is truly what you are asking. But to answer the question; yes I am aware of instances where over 10 rounds was an essential part of self defense.

The bottom line with magazine limits is that it won't help much, if at all. Not only does it cause an inconvenience to most gun owners. But it puts individuals at increased risk. Even if you could somehow prove that a couple people wouldn't have been killed in mass shootings if the shooter didn't use 30 round magazines. You cannot prove that the LAW would have prevented the use 30 round magazines in the first place. And you cannot prove that no one will need 11+ rounds to defend themselves in the future. So we insert assumptions in to replace proof. And it sounds like your assumption overestimates positive effects of magazine limits while underestimating or even ignoring negative effects.

Dick Metcalf is just a distraction. He was employed by a gun magazine. He made a living by appealing to gun owners. Then he wrote an unpopular article about gun control and was let go. No surprise there. I personally feel bad for the guy because the original article made a lot of sense. But he made the choice to distance himself from his audience. His employers didn't have much of a choice. However, I will say that death threats are always unacceptable.

Government is not the enemy

Brian -
I appreciate your sharing your perspectives. I am not convinced by your assertion of the need for high capacity magazines for personal protection, but am open to hearing more. Let's agree on background checks.

If I ever felt that my personal situation warranted having a gun for personal protection, I would want one of those "smart" guns, knowing the very real risks of accidents, theft, and having one's own gun used against you. It's too bad the gun community is so dead set against smart guns as to even suppress the free market. Opposition to government regulation by gun interests is extreme, especially in some states. What do you think of nullification laws considered by some states: laws which are clearly unconstitutional? Gun Owners of America opposes all gun control.

Open carry advocates are making a statement of power. Whether they should be entrusted with lethal weapons in the public square is something else. You might be interested in this story about an open carry advocate. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/06/22/1216658/-GunFAIL-XXlll#

Our government, for all its problems, is the system we have to have to promote the public welfare. It is accountable to us. Law enforcement officers, likewise, are accountable. We have a system of laws. The NRA, the only entity that has a gun registry, is not open or accountable to anyone. It is disturbing to me to hear the demonization of government as tyrannical and the idea of a world where we should be armed and ready for mayhem at all times. The Second Amendment is not going away, but gun violence is a real problem and regulation is essential. When the vast majority wants background checks on all gun sales, they should happen.

Let's work together for a more civil society.

Reply

Barbara,

At risk of sounding like a smartalec... if civilian use of higher than 10 round magazines could save a single life, isn't it worth it?

It sounds like you are still disregarding defensive use of guns and overestimating the effectiveness of compounded gun laws. Guns are used for self defense. I have provided the reason that I believe defensive gun use is just as prevalent if not more prevalent than offensive uses. Do you have reason or supportive studies to disagree with this assertion. I think you are intelligent enough to know that you cannot trust the defensive gun use tally on gunviolencearchive.org. Less than 1,000 defensive uses is absurd and unrealistic.

Once you sort out what you personally believe to be an accurate estimate of defensive gun use, you will probably be able to understand my perspective better. To elaborate further, you believe mass murders are aided by use of higher capacity magazines, right? By most definitions, a mass murder is someone who kills 4 or more people in a single event. Now flip that the other way around. How often do you think a group of at least 4 people commit a violent act against someone. Whether it's a gang rape, home invasion or homicide. I don't know that figure. But I honestly believe it is far greater than the 30 mass murders per year. If you say it will save a life then you must also know it will cost at least one life. If higher capacity magazines are effective, then they are effective both defensively and offensively.

Magazine restrictions limit defensive use at a much higher rate than offensive uses. I hate to repeat the gun lobby talking point, but the fact is that someone willing to commit murder will not think twice about using an illegal magazine. That is an inescapable reality. And I'm not saying it a concrete rule, obviously I know some laws need to be in place even if they will be disregarded by a group of people. But in this case, if the law is going to be just a tiny bit effective, it is going to have a much larger effect on defensive use.

"I am not convinced by your assertion of the need for high capacity magazines for personal protection." Well - that statement opens a philosophical can of worms. Nobody can prove a future need. That's because the future is uncertain. I can show you some news articles where people needed more than 10 rounds for self defense. So is past need proof enough? Besides, where is the proof that a magazine ban will have a positive impact? Where is the proven need to limit them? It didn't help in the past (see 1990 AWB). According to Mother Jones only half of all mass shooters used 'high capacity magazines'. Even that is a skewed 'fact' because the average magazine sold with a hand gun is 'high captivity'. Ergonomics and practicality dictate that there is no point in having empty space in the grip of a handgun. That's why standard capacity has always been what you now call 'high capacity'.

Philosophically, are we striving to be a needs based society? How is that progress? I could never convince you that I have a need for wine or beer. A need for a car that goes over 65 mph. A need for unhealthy foods or beverages. It is not illegal to have a fast car, it's illegal to go fast. It's not illegal to buy large amounts of alcohol, it's illegal to consume so much that you put others or yourself at risk. It's not illegal purchase an consume unhealthy food, but there are certain restrictions and health codes to protect us. Bottom line is that it is that it is illegal to use an 11+ round magazine to harm someone. It should not be illegal to purchase a magazine that could save my life, helps me improve my gun safety practices at the range and logically makes sense based on the size and shape of a handgun that fits my hand.

A truly large capacity magazine likely saved lives during the 2011 Tucson shooting. The shooter used 33 round magazines in a handgun. He only used 15-20 of the rounds before reloading. At that time the bulky and inefficient nature of 33 round magazines caused him to drop the gun and ended the killing spree much shorter than he intended.

All that being said, i will put my thoughts on magazines to a rest unless you have questions or would like to hear more.

Another philosophical issue is that the police, as accountable as you might think they are held, have NO obligation to protect you or your family. Don't get me wrong, every Newtown police office I have met would likely lay down their life in defense of someone. But legally, they are no obligated to help you at all. The only person truly accountable for your life is you.

No offense, but that open carry advocate is just a distraction. It is the equivalent to me saying, "but Obama has armed protections". I can differentiate between isolated instances and the big picture. I'm willing to bet you can too.

Governments are run by people. People are susceptible to corruption. We have seen that throughout history, even in America. We see it today. I don't think that it is likely that we will need to overthrow a government with armed resistance. I personally hope that people can get more engaged and vote better people into office. That seems to be harder and harder as lobbyist and other interests seem to have greater influence. An armed population is in fact a safeguard against abuse of power (or tyranny). It allows citizens to draw a line. I don't necessarily agree with 100% of what happened, but the Bundy ranch situation illustrated how firearms could possibly safeguard us from corruption. Could federal forces have obliterated those who opposed them? Of course. But they didn't because of what that could have led to. Without firearms, the ranchers and supporters would have been pushed around until they did something that would have gotten them detained. They wouldn't have the ability to resist. And yes, it is still a possibility that main land USA will be invaded in the future. Only a fool would somehow think that history is incapable of repeating itself. Global powers have risen and fallen over and over. An armed population cannot go to war with an army, but they can make it impossible to exert control over.

I don't know where you get the impression that smart guns are opposed by the gun community as a whole. Logically, I would assume that a business would hesitate to open a new market niche by selling guns to people who would like them to be safer. I am personally completely in favor of safety technology. I love gadgets, what guy doesn't? But legislating the mandatory use of those devices won't happen. Especially on the Federal level. No politician is going to risk the fallout if the technology were to fail resulting in wrongful injury or death. Never mind the cost restraint. I would be interested in hearing why you believe the gun community has acted against gun safety technologies.

Finally, yes - gun violence is a real problem. But it is merely a subset of violence, which is the true problem. What make you so sure that gun control is the right thing to do? How do you know that trading off rights in an attempt to reduce gun violence will reduce overall violence at all? There certainly isn't any statistical data to prove that. All I have seen is that gun control, in certain situations, can lead to lower gun violence. But it never talks about overall violence. That's because there are immeasurable crime deterrent attributes of citizen gun ownership. You may never want to own a gun. You have that right. But at the same time you do enjoy the added safety that comes along with the fact that no one knows whether you are armed or not. It's commonly used as snide remark, but there is a reason people won't advertise their households as gun free. You don't want criminals knowing your household is unarmed do you?

Reply

Obviously you are passionate about the issue of defensive gun use. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, in 2011 there were only 261 justifiable homicides committed by private citizens. Of these, only 31 involved women killing men. Of those, only 17 involved firearms, with 14 of the 17 involving handguns. While firearms are at times used by private citizens to kill criminals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the most common scenarios of lethal gun use in America in 2010, the most recent final data available, are suicide (19,392), homicide (11,078), or fatal unintentional injury (606).

You are right that guns are a subset of violence, which is a problem, but guns are much more associated with death and serious injury than other methods. That kid that recently went on a school stabbing spree didn't kill anyone. Guns used in suicides are likewise much more lethal than other methods. I hear many gun proponents dismiss the approx 20,000 gun deaths that occur each year from suicides, because 1. it isn't a criminal act, and 2. People determined to commit suicide will do it some other way if a gun isn't available. As someone with a brother with mental illness who was narrowly prevented from acquiring a gun, I appreciate the fact that he did not get that gun, that he got help, and is still with us. A close associate of mine was less lucky. Her husband shot himself in the head at home with their two young children in the house. There is rarely a second chance when a gun is used to commit suicide.

Here is the link to an article about the gun store owner that stopped carrying smart guns after a backlash from the gun community.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/california-smart-gun-store-prompts-f...

Why am I so certain that gun control is the right thing to do? Because strong gun laws are associated with fewer gun deaths. I have no desire that anyone's guns be taken from them (except I do support the CT law that permits police to confiscate someone's firearms in the situation of imminent danger to themselves or others). I do want society to ensure that those who should not have guns by law are prevented from acquiring them, that people who have guns use them responsibly in a way that doesn't endanger other people. When I see militia types brandishing their Modern Sporting Rifles to threaten Federal government officials in defense of a rancher who has defied the law for 20 plus years, that is not patriotism. That these people proclaim their allegiance to the Constitution is simply hilarious. Maybe these are the "power base" that Steve Sanetti referred to that could not be beaten. Wayne LaPierre proclaimed "The guys with the guns make the rules". I hope you agree with me and the majority of Americans that that is not the way this country works.

Reply

Barbara,

I want to point out that you shifted defensive gun use to justifiable homicides. It seems like you are still dismissing defensive gun use as if it doesn't help increase safety. And the FBI stats concerning justifiable homicides is a double edged blade. Sure, its seems to dwarf the prevalence of defensive gun use. Which I will repeat, nearly every single study places defensive gun use at lease as common as offensive gun use. But on the other end it outlines the fact that guns are not as dangerous as you seem to believe. They are effective for self defense. And when used defensively, the intent is rarely to kill a perpetrator. The victim simply wants to stop the violence. The fact is that of the million or so defensive gun uses a year, only a few hundred people are killed.

"Because strong gun laws are associated with fewer gun deaths." and my point is that it doesn't matter how many 'gun deaths' there are. If we aren't reducing overall deaths and overall violence we are doing the wrong thing. CT has 3 of the country's top 10 most dangerous cities in the US. What does it matter if we reduce gun deaths when violent crime and homicides continues to escalate.

I implore you to look into the Bundy ranch situation a little further if you truly believe he was simply some outlaw with an armed militia backing him. But that is irrelevant because my point was that an armed society is the only thing that can prevent true corruption and violations of human rights in the future. And for the record, I disagree with Wayne LaPierre quite often.

I also don't agree with the gun community all the time. The comments made about the Armatix iP1 by some of the gun community were flat out stupid. The private sale of a new technology has nothing to do with government mandates. Advanced gun technology is inevitable. I look forward to it. And I think it will help reshape the primitive gun control debate in the US. Restrictions like AWB and magazine limits are at best a distraction, but more likely counterproductive efforts.

I'd be very interested in shifting conversations to suicide. Because I do see the problem there. But we have already agreed on universal background checks. I agree wholeheartedly with CT's safe storage statute. I agree with you that police should be allowed to confiscate guns from those presenting imminent danger. But again, magazine restrictions and AWB won't help prevent a single suicide. Licensing, registration, permits are all feel good but do nothing attempts to solve the problem. Universal background checks help. But the only ways to improve this problem is through our deplorable health care system and through education. Since we already have universal background check in CT, I don't see how gun control should even be a part of this discussion. If anything, it distracting from the real issues.

My view is that there are 3 categories. 1) Suicides. Which as I believe is no longer a gun control issue. 2) Mass murders. Which are statistically rare and there is no logical reason to believe that any gun control short of an extreme/complete gun ban will help stop this problem. 3) Overall safety. This is violent crimes and maybe even non-violent crimes. I personally think this is the most important of the three. Especially when discussing gun control.

Thank you for engaging in this conversation. It might seem like I am just disagreeing with everything you say. But I do value your perspective. And I challenge my own view as much as someone else's.

A respectful exchange of ideas

You are right - I am skeptical of DGU as contributing to public safety. I do not deny that defensive gun use on occasion saves lives, but there is no way of knowing the truth of the numbers. I was interested in a study that found that carrying a gun changes people's perception of threats. Can't put my hand on that citation at the moment, but it's point is supported by Florida's experience with Stand Your Ground laws, which have resulted in significant increases in homicides. When you have a gun, you tend to reach for it to solve problems, as found by Michael Dunn, and the popcorn shooter, former lawful gun owners who are now in prison. Or are they also only "distractions"?

Thank you for sharing your perspectives. We are unlikely to totally win over each other to the other point of view, but a respectful exchange is worth something, as was the point of my original letter. Perhaps I would be more willing to continue the conversation if I knew your identity and location, as this seems rather one sided. Maybe you are writing from FL like Barry Hirsch, a gun advocate from Miami who responded to a previous letter. Maybe you ARE Barry?!!? - no, he was a jerk, and you clearly are not, though you do seem primarily focused on shooting down my points. I would be especially impressed if you could share your thoughts on approaches to reduce the number of gun deaths and injuries using your real name and address, perhaps in a published letter to the Bee? Otherwise, I conclude my side of this conversation. Peace to you.

Reply

I reached out to you from my facebook account so you can see that I am genuine. I hope you do think that was inappropriate.

Yes inappropriate

No thanks

Reply

Then you can simply ignore the message. No harm no foul.

Your remark: "Perhaps I would be more willing to continue the conversation if I knew your identity and location, as this seems rather one sided." is rather misleading if you think a simple message from a public networking website is inappropriate. I can take a hint though. It doesn't seem you wanted to engage in a meaningful and respectful exchange of ideas on guns. In retrospect, your letter was probably an attempt to bait the NSSF into acknowledging the small handful of people who appear at Mile Hill Road on random Fridays.

I wish you the best Barbara, take care.

A real person?

A FB identity "Gun in Pocket" does not say to me "real person". It says you are someone who uses a hidden identity to engage with others. Your avatar suggests that you identify more strongly with guns than anything else, and promote a concealed carry lifestyle. All of which makes true openness to another viewpoint doubtful. It would also have been nice if you were honest enough to admit that you live in California, rather than make up a story when I asked about the impact of CT laws on you personally. Oh well, shame on me for making assumptions.

Reply

You might want to look at your facebook messages more carefully. You are obviously looking at the wrong message. I do not live in California. My avatar is a picture of me and my wife, taken at the Sandy Hook Damn. I even sent a link to a Newtown Bee letter to the editor that I sent. Here is the message I sent:

"Thursday 4/24 1:20pm
I hope that this is the correct facebook account. We were discussing gun control on the Newtown Bee's website. I was the person commenting as 'brian'. You sounded concerned about my authenticity. And I agree that anonymity is often counterproductive. The only letter to the editor I wrote to the Bee was:

http://newtownbee.com/news/editorial-ink-drops

I am certainly not from Florida. I do appreciate being able to have a respectful conversation"

You will have to go to your 'other' messages inbox to view it because I am not friends with you. I hope that clears up your confusion.

Facebook weirdness

Sorry for the misunderstanding. I am not a big Facebook person and didn't know that there is an "other" message box. The only notice I got was a friend request from that Guns in Pocket person from California, which I assumed was you. I read your message just now and appreciate that you are a real, local person. It has been a good exchange with you. Maybe we'll meet in person some time. Best wishes to you and your family.

Thank you

And the same to you!

Why not now

Brian, I'm glad to hear that you are supportive of background checks. The CT legislation was crafted after a great deal of input and is supported by the majority of CT residents. At the January 2013 hearing on gun safety at the Hartford Capitol, I stood in line with over a thousand mostly pro-gun people eager to testify. The committee listened to the testimony of hundreds, staying until almost 3am. No one that I am aware of is proposing repeal of the Second Amendment.
No, gun control is not new, and the balance of gun rights and gun safety will continue to be a hotly contested issue. The more rational respectful dialogue can take place, the greater the chance both gun rights and gun safety goals can be achieved.

RE: Why not now.

I don't agree with you that a majority of CT residents supported the gun bill. It was forced through less than 16 weeks after 12/14. And there were no public hearings on the bill itself. It was done so quickly there weren't any public opinion polls conducted that I am aware of. Did we all want something to be done? Yes, I would say almost everyone felt that way. If I were to make a guess... I would say you probably surrounded yourself with like minded individuals which led you to believe everyone wanted those laws.

I am genuinely curious to know what you would like to discuss. Are there new law you would like enacted? Are you focusing your ambition on the federal level? I honestly just don't see there being meaningful discussion here in CT. Call me a pessimist, but I doubt anything I said would lead you to wanting to strike down any of the current gun control laws. And if you are in support of more gun control in CT, you are most likely an extremist who has their mind set in stone. So what would you want to discuss?

I would also like to make a side note that it certainly is not a debate between gun rights vs. gun safety. They are not mutually exclusive. Most gun laws do nothing to keep people safe. Also, that polarized view ignores defensive use of gun, which in fact makes people safer. The vast majority of gun owners support and actively promote gun safety.

Why now?

Wouldn't the time to discuss these things have been BEFORE CT passed 'An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety' which was jammed down our throats with "emergency certification". Why didn't lawmakers want to talk then?

This isn't new subject matter. Society hasn't all of sudden become 'more evolved' making firearms obsolete or useless. I would personally be glad to take you up on the offer to exchange ideas. Although, I honestly can't even fathom what there is to discuss other than Mental Health and review of some of the current laws that are counterproductive.

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