John Lee's most recent letter regarding gun control (Nov. 15, 1998, Journal-World), deserves a rebuttal. Using dubious logic, Lee takes the sad truth that convicts can obtain a gun "in a few hours" upon release from prison as evidence that we need LESS gun control and not more. This country -- like no other in the so called "developed" world -- is awash in so many guns that they have been declared a public health hazard by the American Medical Assn. Last year more than 35,000 Americans died by gunfire. (By comparison, handguns were used to murder two people in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, and 106 in Canada). Guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill someone in the home than to kill in self-defense. More than twice as many women are shot and killed by their husbands or lovers than by strangers. And for every "justifiable homicide" where a citizen used a gun in defense, 131 lives were ended in firearm murders, suicides and unintentional shootings.
Mr. Lee goes on to cite the work of Professor John Lott, John M. Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, that purports to show that relaxed concealed weapon laws reduce crime. What Lee fails to mention is that the methodology and findings of professor Lott's one study have been seriously questioned by dozens of scholars. Lott himself seems to have a few "libertarian" ideas of his own. Following the Arkansas school shootings, for example, Lott called for arming teachers as the solution to preventing such tragedies. Lott may also be a biased source for research on these issues: his named Olin professorship is indirectly supported by none other than the Olin Corp., owner of the largest producer of ammunition in the United States, Winchester Inc.
The one thing that Mr. Lee and I do agree on is that "waiting periods" and the like will do little to stem the carnage. Not until the United States joins the rest of the civilized world and severely restricts the manufacture, distribution and sale of guns -- something polls show that the majority of Americans want -- will any of us be able to enjoy our truly essential constitutional freedoms.
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