This letter to the editor ran in the Rome, NY Daily Sentinel. I think it’s well written and intelligent. Too bad some people don’t have enough common sense to realize he’s right.
I am writing regarding Marie Coco’s column “Guns and the link we won’t admit.” Though I am happy to consider anyone’s opinion, this piece presented factual errors and faulty logic to make the case for more gun control. I use such terms not as diatribe or insult, but because I think that arguments for abridging freedom should be held to particularly high standards. I would like the opportunity to rebut Ms. Cocco’s piece not only because of her destructive ideas but also in an effort to encourage an intellectual lifting of the debate.
Ms. Cocco directly implies that the availability of guns causes people to commit horrible crimes. Inanimate objects cannot cause people to carry out any actions. Does alcohol cause drunkenness? Do wrenches cause people to fix their own leaky pipes? Do shoes cause more pedestrian traffic? I know that such statements are ridiculous: That is my point. The idea that guns cause people to commit crime is equally ridiculous, but it is the logic of Ms. Cocco’s piece.
Ms. Cocco describes James Von Brunn, a man with a long history of open, violent racism. Would such a man, ready to break the highest law, including murder, have ever hesitated to break a law against acquiring a gun? And in fact, laws did not prevent him from committing his crimes. As a convicted felon (whose felonies included illegally possessing guns) it is illegal for von Brunn even to touch a gun. Under the strongest possible regulation of guns, an outright total ban, von Brunn’s actions would have been no more illegal than they already are, and if he was not deterred now, why would he be deterred after a ban?
The gun trace legislation that Ms. Cocco mentions actually specifically states that gun trace data will be released to any law enforcement organization at any level in the course of investigating a crime. The only prohibition on law enforcement is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will not release data if it is not in connection with an active criminal investigation. And that prohibition is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, among others.
Ms. Cocco also mentions Richard Poplawski and the crimes he committed with a gun identified as an AK-47, which Ms. Cocco implies would not have been possible if the “Assault Weapons” ban was still in force. This is not true. The AK-47 is a machine gun, capable of fully-automatic fire, and is not regulated by the “Assault Weapons” ban but rather by the National Firearms Act.
Perhaps the most important point here is that Ms. Cocco gives no indication of why we should think that stricter gun control will prevent crime. The examples she gives are in fact ones of why gun control does nothing to prevent crime. Other countries that have strict gun control do not see a decline in illegal guns, and criminals in South Africa, Russia, and even Taiwan , the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are just as quick to commit murder despite the fact that guns are not widely and legally available.
And what of the tens of millions of Americans who own guns under the current system of regulation yet commit no violent crimes with them? They don’t suddenly become filled with violence when they walk into a sporting goods store. The number of legal gun-owners far exceeds the total number of violent criminals, but Ms. Cocco lumps them all together as a threat to society. It is good that Ms. Cocco is looking for ways to reduce violence, but if she proposes to do so by abridging the long-held freedoms of American citizens, she should at least get her facts straight.