To the editor:
I see that Mary Tyler Moore has added her name to the long list of celebrities who use their celebrity to popularize their political views. In the Feb. 12 edition of the Journal-World, Ms. Moore said "the government should not be in the role of promoting and placing firearms in the hands of children."
While I cannot fault Ms. Moore for opposing a giveaway program, her instincts are completely wrong. In a study conducted from 1993-1995 by the U.S. Department of Justice entitled "Urban Delinquency and Substance Abuse," child psychologists tracked 4,000 boys and girls aged 6 to 15 in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester, N.Y., in an attempt to determine the relationship between "problem behaviors" like drug use, teen pregnancy, and crime. The study found that:
Children who get guns from their parents don't commit gun crimes (0 percent), while children who get illegal guns are very likely to do so (21 percent).
Children who get guns from parents are less likely to commit any kind of street crime (14 percent) than children who have no gun in the house (24 percent) and are dramatically less likely to do so than children who acquire an illegal gun (74 percent).
Children who get guns from parents are less likely to use drugs (13 percent) than children who get illegal guns (41 percent).
"Boys who own legal firearms have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use (than boys who own illegal guns) and are even slightly less delinquent than non-owners of guns," the study reported.
Ms. Moore's lack of background information on this issue has inadvertently led her to the correct conclusion: government shouldn't be in the role of promoting and placing firearms in the hands of children. Rather, parents should be in that role.