I am writing in response to the lengthy letter from representatives of the Center for Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking that appeared in the March 8 edition of the Clinton Herald.
The writers frequently used the popular and inaccurate term gun violence. Guns are incapable of violence. The more correct term is criminal violence. Criminals are very imaginative in the weapons they employ to ply their trade and firearms are only one in a very long list.
Violence can be reduced much more effectively by eliminating criminal activity instead of focusing on only one of the criminals’ many tools. Particularly as this same tool is commonly used by lawful citizens to protect themselves from the unlawful.
The writers also mischaracterize the National Rifle Association as an unwitting tool of firearm manufacturers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since 1871 the NRA has promoted the safe and responsible use of firearms for the benefit of its millions of members. It does this through firearm safety training, hunter safety training programs, law enforcement firearms training and many forms of marksmanship competitive events.
Since 1988 the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for pre-K through third-grade students has led to a dramatic decrease in accidental firearms deaths among this age group. Following the heinous murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School the NRA assembled a task force of security experts to produce the National School Shield program. This program presents a multi-tiered approach to improve school security, including prevention and mitigation, preparedness and response. This reasoned approach will actually reduce school violence. It stands in stark contrast to the attempts by many groups to shamelessly exploit this horrific crime to promote a narrow and extreme political agenda.
Agreement can certainly be found on common sense gun legislation. However, this is strongly dependent on the definition of common sense. The Center for Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking representatives argue for adopting an assault weapons ban. Such a ban was in place beginning in 1994. A Congressional study in 2004 showed that the law had not reduced crime and it was therefore allowed to expire. The law’s failure was most likely because the so-called assault weapons covered by the ban were not the criminals’ weapons of choice. However millions of law abiding citizens do own firearms on the list and responsibly use them for self-defense, for sport and in competitive events. Instituting a ban that has failed before and expecting different results is not common sense. Likewise removing firearms from responsible law-abiding citizens and expecting a reduction in crime is not common sense. The Constitution of the United States is a magnificent document. It contains The Bill of Rights that clearly identifies pre-existing rights of citizens that are to be protected against infringement from government. We should be ever vigilant against ceding any of these rights.