Gun debate needs more facts, less opinion, passion

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

The discussion over guns and gun violence continues to be misinformed through passion and opinions rather than re-search and facts.  The Mercury added to the opinion in its editorial Sunday, “Looser gun laws won’t make us safer,” without adding anything of sub-stance. 

When we remember Columbine, Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Newtown and others, we anguish over guns rather than people. When we look at the world in general, we see that the most horrific shootings are in churches; next, schools.  The reason is simple; they provide easy targets for deranged people. There is a concentration of people who are generally defenseless, rendering high casualties in a short amount of time. They are also, in the United State at least, gun-free zones. 

Although not well known or widely practiced, some churches in the United States provide armed security during services.  More widely known, especially since Columbine, are armed police officers in select schools. We have such officers in our Manhattan school district, al-though placing them in the schools was not without dissent from the community.

The truth is that with the advent of the increase in the number of guns owned by citizens, the violent crime rate has gone down across America with the exception of such places as Chicago, where violent gun crime is rampant. This is not my opinion; this is reported by The National Institute of Justice, which is the research, develop-ment and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Since 1993, gun violence in the United States has steadily de-clined regardless of the inci-dents cited above.  The Institute does not attribute a correlation, it should be noted.

My opinion is that the dis-cussion should be redirected to the health-care system, the dis-mantling of which began under President Kennedy. Institutions for the mentally challenged be-gan to close (for very good reasons in many cases), but the mental-health services that were then supposed to be provided by local communities were never funded properly.

In many communities, they simply never existed. We have many people walking the streets who are not being served but should be. Schools are supposed to provide for all students, regardless of mental health status, but are neither staffed or funded for that purpose. Under the present state administration, they are even less able to pro-vide services.

I have been asked my opinion of arming teachers. I do not support it.  Not because it would not limit a mass killing of stu-dents but because it is very unlikely it could be implement-ed properly. I would support a system that would carefully select the teachers to be armed, strategically situate them in the building, require them to train regularly with the RCPD SWAT and have a tightly developed and coordinated response plan. That is the only way I would support arming teachers.  Without such a system, arming teachers gener-ally is a bad idea. The RCPD would not then be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

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