Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Damage from guns is immeasurable

Another view?

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We agonize over several thousand of our brave soldiers lost forever in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade. We’ve already spent millions of dollars and untold man-hours of congressional time investigating the deaths in Benghazi, Libya. This is a massive effort to prevent this from re-occurring.

What is it that differentiates these occurrences from what happens in our country every year? ABC News reported that over the past 24 months, 57,000 Americans, 5,000 of them children, were killed here by guns, and yet there are no solutions. Looking beyond the personal tragedy and misery that guns in the hands of civilians create, what comes to mind is the loss of all these people to society. We lose their skills and their future contributions, maybe even another Lincoln, an Einstein or a Martin Luther King Jr. Then there is the financial cost to society for their education and the cost to locate, prosecute and incarcerate criminals.

I have come to the following realizations:

• Guns don’t kill people; people with guns kill people.

• When few people have guns, few people die from gun shots.

• When many have guns, many die from gun shots.

• Insane and inhumane people left to fend for themselves cannot be controlled, and laws likely will not restrict them.

• Semi-automatic weapons will kill and injure more people at a far faster rate than weapons that are not semi-automatic .

• America, with a population of 320 million people and a civilian arsenal of 280 million guns, means only our youngest children are now potentially deprived of gun access.

Aldus Huxley was right; it’s a “brave new world” out there. Experience it, if you feel that you can safely venture out into America’s wild, wild west, that is.

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  1. Letter writer should remember that the movie theater in Aurora, Colorada and the Sandy Hook Elementary school were both "gun free" zones. My advice is to proceed cautiously with new gun restriction laws. Sometimes the very laws enacted cause the exact same problems they try to prevent.

    CarmineD

  2. Let's all agree that whatever is done about firearms will never be 100% effective. That said, what should be our priorities?

    Are they semiautomatic weapons or people?

    Are they high capacity ammunition clips and magazines or people?

    Are they legal gun ownership loopholes or people?

    The fact that no solutions are 100% effective doesn't mean nothing should be done. Doing nothing is 0% effective.

  3. "Looking beyond the personal tragedy and misery that guns in the hands of civilians create.....I have come to the following realizations....."

    Rychtarik -- you should take off the blinders. It's not just "guns in the hands of civilians" causing so much "personal tragedy and misery." Those wearing badges and otherwise anointed with enforcing our laws must be included in this examination.

    "More then 10,000 people each year are murdered by drunk drivers. Yet we do not eliminate all cars or bars."

    Future -- good reminder. An exhaustive list of all that kills us, including household accidents, would consume this and many more Discussions. I disagree with your reasoning about the ACLU.

    "Richard, according to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. Since we are in a ban mood, why not propose a complete ban on tobacco as well since the death rate is nearly 8 times higher than guns?"

    RefnV -- another good point, though the CDC has been outed on that issue for using junk science to support its agenda. Have a look @ http://www.cato.org/regulation/fall-1998...

    "Letter writer should remember that the movie theater in Aurora, Colorada and the Sandy Hook Elementary school were both "gun free" zones."

    CarmineD -- excellent reminder

    Much of why our Constitutions protect keeping and bearing arms is being played out in Mexico. Check that out @ http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/jan...

    "Because there is no comparison whatsoever between an armed and a disarmed man; it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants." -- Niccolo Machiavelli 1513 "The Prince" Chapter IV

  4. Re Freeman...when you can't argue the point, change the subject. Saul Alinsky' Rules for Radicals

  5. Comparing gun deaths to smoking, automobile accidents and abortions is rich. People choose to smoke cigarettes, have abortions and drive cars. Most don't choose to be shot by others. The above are also legal activities. Comparing gun violence to accidental deaths or deaths caused by bad living habits is nonsense.

    Many of the frontier towns didn't allow firearms within the city limits because they were having gun violence issues. When gangsters started mowing people down with selective fire weapons severe restrictions were placed on those weapons. In addition over the last several decades restrictions have been put on short barreled weapons, silenced weapons, and explosives.

    Deaths from the above weapons are almost nonexistent today.

  6. Gun violence in Mexico is a direct result of gun proliferation in the United States. Most of the semi automatic weapons use down there come from the United States. This is about the only country in the world we can buy crap like that over-the-counter.

  7. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/...
    One of the worlds most famous gun advocates. Did him a lot of good....shot to death.

  8. Drunk people killing people by driving cars vs sober people shooting others with guns. An interesting comparison. Next I suppose we can expect complaints from people about squeezing turnips all day long and still not getting juice for tomorrow's breakfast.

    Since their invention, firearms have been designed for only two uses: breaking things and ending life. Is anyone willing to argue that booze or motor vehicles were designed for only those ends?

    Almost anything has the potential to damage or kill if misused. Even soap. (Drop a wet bar on the bathroom floor, then step on it...) Does that mean we go back to the stone age? Sorry - bad example. Even a rock, properly shaped or (mis)used, can damage or kill. No. It means we restrict people's ability to misuse their tools: we ban their booze, take away their cars.

    What do we do, however, about a tool that is being very properly used for its very specifically designed
    purpose?

  9. The far right believes Americans shooting each other by the millions is what the founding fathers had in mind with the Second Amendment.

  10. I don't know that the far left believes everyone is a victim but I do know that something in the neighborhood of 300 people are going to be shot in the next 24 hours. Many of those folks are definitely victims.

  11. LastThroes said, "Gun worshippers interpretation of the 2nd amendment gives murderers the right to bear the deadly arms that make killing fun and easy. Simply pull the trigger and a first-grade classroom full of precious children is reduced to bullet-riddled, bloody corpses.
    Americans have to figure out whose rights are being violated here."
    -----------------------------------

    I have to agree. It's not enough to just say that we "sympathize" with the victims. Words are cheap. We have to DO SOMETHING about it, and there are things we can do.

    The U.S. Supreme Court, in their recent Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010) decisions, said that the right to keep and bear arms is NOT AN UNLIMITED RIGHT. It may be subject to reasonable regulation. Here is what the Court said, in their own words:

    """Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.
    It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any
    manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.""""

    What the Court is saying seems to be pretty clear. You have a right to keep and bear arms, but it is not an "absolute" right.

    So, the question comes down to deciding on "which weapons" and "what regulations". Banning the sale of military style assault weapons would be a good place to start.

  12. Marty says " Words are cheap. We have to DO SOMETHING about it, and there are things we can do." and "Banning the sale of military style assault weapons would be a good place to start."

    Based on WHAT evidence? Can you provide a single example, here in the US or anywhere in the world, where a similar ban has actually resulted in a reduction in gun deaths or violent crime?

    Passing laws just for the sake of passing laws is ridiculous. Obviously you seem to want to help prevent tragedies like this and reduce the number of people killed each year....so why not find something that either been shown to work, or at least has not yet been shown to be ineffective, and get behind THAT. Why channel your energy into "feel good efforts" that have already been shown to be useless at reducing violent crime and gun deaths?

  13. wendor,
    When was the last machine gun massacre in this country again?

  14. Wendor said:

    Marty says " Words are cheap. We have to DO SOMETHING about it, and there are things we can do." and "Banning the sale of military style assault weapons would be a good place to start."

    Wendor responded: "Based on WHAT evidence? Can you provide a single example, here in the US or anywhere in the world, where a similar ban has actually resulted in a reduction in gun deaths or violent crime? Passing laws just for the sake of passing laws is ridiculous"
    --------------------------------

    Thanks for responding to my comment, Wendor. Here's what I have to say about this.

    In the United Kingdom, where it is extremely difficult to obtain a gun permit, the total firearms related death rate is 0.25 persons per 100,000.

    By contrast, in the United States, the total firearms related death rate is 10.2 persons per 100,000.

    This means that our firearms related death rate is 40 times greater than the firearms death rate in the UK. Death by guns in the UK is almost non-existent, and there is a good reason for it.

    In the United States we have 88.8 guns for every 100 people. In the United Kingdom, they only have 6 guns for every 100 people.

    Fewer guns = Fewer gun deaths. Imagine that !! Who would have thunk it ?

    As others have said on this thread, guns don't kill people........"people with guns" kill people.

    And, it also goes without saying, the more efficient weapons (semi-automatic, high capacity magazine clips), make mass killings that much easier.

    This is really a "no-brainer". It only "seems" complicated because of obfuscation by the NRA and other gun advocacy groups, who are trying to confuse the issue. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that the right to keep and bear arms is "not unlimited". So, lets impose some sensible gun control on the most dangerous of these weapons, and try to keep them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. This should be our goal.

  15. Marty, go look up the data. The UK had a lower rate of gun deaths to begin with...so having a low one now doesn't mean their ban was successful.

    To see if their ban was successful you need to compare gun deaths BEFORE the ban with gun deaths AFTER the ban. And guess what....there has been an 89% INCREASE in gun deaths in the UK since the ban went into effect over 10 years ago.

    Gun crimes in 1998/1999: 5,208
    Gun crimes in 2007/2008: 9,865

    An 89% increase.

    In some areas, Lancashire for example, the number went from 50 to 349, a 598% increase.

    Gun deaths/injuries:
    1998/1999: 864
    2007/2008: 1,760
    That's a 104% increase

    You say "Fewer guns = Fewer gun deaths." I say "prove it". The FBI data for number of handguns in private hands is readily available for each year. So are the FBI and CDC statistics on gun crime and gun deaths. Show me a correlation between number of guns and number of gun deaths.

  16. Mark says "When was the last machine gun massacre in this country again?"

    1997. Many years after machine gun ownership was restricted. (Note that this put it DURING the assault weapon ban as well)

    But show me the reduction in the rate of gun deaths that resulted form the machine gun ban. Oh wait, you can't because the rate of gun deaths went UP in the 20 years after the machine gun ban.

    So where's the effectiveness of the ban on gun deaths?

  17. Wendor,

    You did an admirable job of surfing the internet to find statistics to bolster your position that there is no correlation between easy availability of guns, and gun violence. Unfortunately, the statistics you found don't prove very much.

    The figures you cite are from a 2009 article in a British newspaper, The Daily Mail. The very first sentence of the article places the blame for the increase in gun crime on "a culture of extreme gang violence has taken hold". The article went on to say that "In areas dominated by gang culture, we're now seeing guns used to settle scores between rivals as well as turf wars between rival drug dealers". So, the big takeaway from this aticle is that gun violence is greater in bad areas dominated by gangs. This should not surprise anyone. The article also points out that there are areas where gun violence has gone down.

    You also said, "Show me a correlation between number of guns and number of gun deaths".

    I already did in my previous comment. The United States has 88.8 guns for every one hundred people; a ratio of almost one gun for every person. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has a ratio of only 6 guns for every one hundred people. As a result, British citizens are 40 TIMES LESS LIKELY to be injured or killed by firearms. And, these statistics include the "gang violence" that I mentioned above.

    There are only two explanations for the much higher rate of gun violence in the United States. Either its due to the excessive proliferation and easy access to all types of guns in the United States. Or we, as a people, are much more violent than the British.

    Which of these, in your opinion, is the most likely explanation for the difference in gun violence between the United States and the UK ?

    Let me close by giving you a SPECIFIC example of how gun control might have prevented or at least significantly reduced the damage in Sandy Hook.

    The assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Two years later, in 2006, Adam Lanza's mother bought a Bushmaster rifle. If the Republicans had not allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, it is likely that Adam Lanza's mother would not have been able to purchase the Bushmaster rifle which Adam Lanza subsequently used in his attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In that case many, if not most, of the victims would still be alive today.

  18. Great comment, Bimmerdude !! You made some very good points.

  19. Wendor makes this claim:
    "1997. Many years after machine gun ownership was restricted. (Note that this put it DURING the assault weapon ban as well)"

    Knowing how easily lying and out of context statements come for conservatives, Wendor will need to provide a source that provides the basic and contextual information so readers may see just how far off base Wendor is.

  20. I know the context of this 1997 incident and will wait for Wendor to explain in full what happened, why it is so rare, and how it actually demonstrates the effectiveness of the strict laws surrounding the purchase of such lethal guns.

  21. Rare or not Mark, it happened.

    Despite a total ban on the type of weapons used, it did not prevent criminals from going on a rampage. So why do you think a new ban would be any different?

    So it would seem to be time for you to stop getting your "gun control works" data from Westerns and Gangster movies. Real life is a bit different.

  22. Sorry Marty, you're still comparing apples and oranges if you think that the ONLY difference between the US and the UK is number of guns in circulation.

    TOTAL gun deaths and number of gun deaths per 100,000 people have both gone up in the 10 years since the ban. So show me exactly how the gun ban reduced gun crime.

    As I said, the data for number of guns in the US is readily available....so is the data on number of gun deaths. Explain why gun deaths don't show a parallel rise and fall as number of guns changes.

    "In that case many, if not most, of the victims would still be alive today."

    What a preposterous crock. While it's nice that you can live in a dream world where you can magically determine how changes in the past would affect the future....the real world isn't quite that simple. So you did not provide "a SPECIFIC example"....you provided wild and unsubstantiated speculation and opinion. Which is all you've had all along. You think that a ban on certain types of guns will reduce gun deaths and prevent massacres...because you WANT it to be true. "If wishes were horses....."

  23. wow, talk about some venting!!!! apparently were not shot in using your 3000 character limit here, some of you really had abbr. to squeeze in some of those irrelevant arguments and statements that so needed to be mentioned...i on the other hand have thousands of characters left, whoo hooo...so i'll save some by simply ending my vent by saying - apparently many of you have nothing better to do with your time...

  24. To Samuel Jaramillo:

    Apparently you have nothing better to do with your time either, since you are reading and commenting on our comments. Welcome to the conversation.

    To Charles Gladu:

    I'm not comparing apples and oranges, and you didn't answer my question.

    Explain to me why the rate of deaths and injuries by firearms in the United Kingdom is 40 TIMES LESS (per every 100,000 people) than in the United States.

    I say its due to the proliferation of guns and lack of gun regulations in the U.S. Do you have another explanation for it ? Don't deflect my question by saying the "rate" of gun violence has increased in the United Kingdom. As my statistics point out, the rate of gun violence in the United Kingdom is still far, far, lower than in the U.S. Can you give me a plausible explanation for this difference, besides the one that I gave you ? Or, perhaps the U.S. is just a more inherently violent country.

    As to your other question, it is not necessary to show a direct mathematical correlation between an increase in the number of guns and an increase in gun violence. It is enough to show that the United Kingdom, with 6 guns per 100,000 people, has 40 times less gun violence than the United States, with 88.8 guns per 100,000. Of course, the United Kingdom also has much stricter gun regulations than we do. I'm sure that also makes a difference.

    You (Charles Gladu) said, "What a preposterous crock. While it's nice that you can live in a dream world where you can magically determine how changes in the past would affect the future..."

    You don't have to live in a "dream world" to know that the students and teachers in Sandy Hook would have stood a much better chance if Adam Lanza did not have access to a semi-automatic rifle with extended magazine clips. A lesser weapon would most likely have resulted in less loss of life at Sandy Hook. And, that's what this debate is all about.

  25. Marty - "I say its due to the proliferation of guns and lack of gun regulations in the U.S."

    So what you have is a hypothesis with no scientific evidence to back it up. That's OK, those are called opinions and you're allowed to have them. Just don't confuse them with facts.

    "Don't deflect my question by saying the "rate" of gun violence has increased in the United Kingdom. As my statistics point out, the rate of gun violence in the United Kingdom is still far, far, lower than in the U.S."

    So actually looking at the EFFECT of the gun ban in the UK is "deflecting"?

    Reducing the availability of guns there didn't result in a reduction in gun crime or gun deaths...but you hold onto the illusion that a reduction in gun availability here would. Strange.

    So let's look at 1987. In 1987, according to the reports after the Hungerford massacre, there were 200,000 legally-registered handguns in Britain. In 1987 the population of the UK was 56,803,958. That comes out to 387 handguns per 100,000 people. (That's just handguns, so the total for all guns would be even higher) yet they STILL had a far less gun violence than the US despite at that time, over 5 times as many guns per capita and far looser gun regulations than most of the US.

    "...if Adam Lanza did not have access to a semi-automatic rifle with extended magazine clips."

    Extended magazine clips? You seem confused. All new reports say that all he had were stock 30 round magazines. Please cite the osurce for the claim that he had "extended" magazines.