Letter Box

Tuesday February 19, 2013

Register guns, don’t take them away Editor of the Reformer:

I grew up in South Dakota and was a hunter from the age of 12. I moved to Vermont after college with my three guns. I have no desire to see guns taken from hunters, collectors or people who possess guns for personal safety. I do, however, advocate the registration and regulation of gun usage -- not gun control.

There are an estimated 270 million guns in America -- 88.9 guns per 100 people. Focusing only on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will not substantially reduce the number of gun deaths in America, though the number of people killed in mass shootings may be lowered.

In 2011, the latest figures available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are accidental discharge 851, suicide 19,766, homicide 11,101 and undetermined intent 222. Previous years statistics are 2010 -- 31,328; 2009 -31,177; 2007 -- 31,224; and 2004 -- 29,569 people.

It is clear that there are too many guns in America to "control" them. Focusing only on guns will have little effect on reducing gun violence. If one rewrites the adage "guns do not kill people, people kill people" to "guns to do not kill people, bullets kill people," a policy could be adopted that could satisfy both the gun control advocates and the gun rights advocates.

Ban assault weapons; limit gun clips to 10 or so shells; register all guns that are to be used for hunting, target practice or competition. If a gun is presently owned and not used it does not have to be registered; register all newly purchased guns including privately sold guns; create a national database of registered guns that can be accessed by dealers of guns and ammunition; sell ammunition in stores, at gun shows and online only for registered guns; sell gun powder and shell casings under the same restriction; conduct an extensive background check on all first-time gun and ammunition purchasers; develop standards of the safe keeping of guns.

While private homes are not be subject to inspection, gun injury due to neglect of safety standards would render the gun owner culpable; develop better mental health services for all citizens; and create a national campaign to eradicate bullying in the country.

Eventually the unregulated supply of ammunition will dry up or at least be reduced greatly because henceforth ammunition will be sold only to registered guns and legal owners of guns. The thousands of illicit gun owners in gangs and crime syndicates, large and small, would not be able to purchase ammunition or the ingredients for making ammunition for their unregistered guns. Owners of registered guns who have had an intensive background check would still be able to purchase ammunition and additional guns albeit with some red tape and encumbrance. That would be a small price to pay for the potential enormous reduction in gun violence and deaths that so clearly plagues our nation today.

Ray Stevens,

Brattleboro, Feb. 12

Time for a national approach to gun ownership

Editor of the Reformer:

Gary Mosher had stated in a letter to the editor (Jan. 11) that the high crime rates in Washington, D.C., and Detroit are proof that restrictive gun laws don’t work. He now writes (Feb. 13) in response to my earlier rebuttal of his statement (Jan. 12) asking whether I’m familiar with ATF records on gun trafficking. And the answer to his question is yes.

Figures released by the ATF show that restrictive gun laws in small areas like Washington, D.C., or Detroit are not effective because guns can be obtained by going to cities or states where licensed dealers are selling or to private gun shows. According to the ATF there are three ways that guns get into the hands of criminals. The most common way is through federally licensed gun dealers who sell off the books. Then there are gun shows and "straw" purchases. The gun show purchases exist because of a federal loophole allowing "private" sellers at gun shows to sell without conducting a criminal background check. A "straw" purchase is where guns are purchased by clean buyers and then given to criminals. This is how the Columbine shooters obtained many of their weapons.

ATF figures prove that it is time for comprehensive effective national gun laws and not a state by state mish-mash. You can’t judge the effectiveness of restrictive laws until it’s impossible for those who have backgrounds that wouldn’t or shouldn’t pass muster to just travel to a gun show or a corrupt but legally registered dealer to purchase a gun. Or as in the case of John Hinkley, who shot James Brady, purchase a gun at a pawn shop in Texas without any background check.

Mr. Mosher argues that England’s crime rate went up after gun laws were put into place. According to the Economist, in 2008-2009 England and Wales with a population one-sixth that of the U.S. had 39 fatal injuries from guns. The U.S. had 12,000 gun-related deaths in 2008 alone. I’d take England’s stats over ours any time.

In response to Mr. Moshers stating that I used an age-old ploy and said that D.C. and Detroit criminals purchased their guns in Vermont, I said states like Vermont. However, the fact is that Vermont is the only state that has no laws of any sort regarding gun purchase restrictions, which is probably why we received an F from Sarah Brady’s group.

I don’t think anyone is blaming legal gun owners, I think it is just obvious that the methods we’ve been using (over 20,000 different laws according to Mr. Mosher) aren’t working. It’s time for a comprehensive, effective national approach to gun ownership.

Susan Burklund,

Brattleboro, Feb. 12

Guns protect
us from tyranny

Editor of the Reformer:

My interpretation of the Second Amendment is to have an armed citizenry and no gun control at all, as we are going to need all the weapons we can get our hands on; especially the large, fully automatic calibers so that we can overthrow a government that may spin out of control. Being left with only small arms to take on the government will not cut it, as we will need larger weapons equal to or larger than the local and federal police forces and the National Guard now have.

Wasn’t that the purpose of the revolutionary war where the British government was over-taxing the Colonies and the American patriots had to take them on and remove them from our land? This may be happening now with our defective government. Think about it for a minute; that is why the Second Amendment was written into our Constitution in the first place.

Christian Blake,

Westminster, Feb. 13


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