EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 1, 2013

Letter: Asking the right questions in debate over guns

To the editor:

In the wake of the recent tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., attention has been brought to the front on the issue of gun rights.

Does “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” as stated in the 2nd Amendment conflict with the spirit of the Constitution to “promote the general welfare?”

No one wants guns in the wrong hands. The image of 6-year-old children cowering in their classroom while being riddled with bullets rightly brings outrage and frustration. But while the killer is dead and emotions run high, the question should not be “How do we ban guns we don’t like?” but rather “How do we protect the innocent?”

Well-intentioned gun laws do not always have the expected results. The 10-year ban on so-called “assault weapons” did nothing to reduce crime. Most mass shootings are not by assault weapons anyway, and more often than not mass shooters lack criminal records. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, yet it had over 500 homicides last year.

Guns in the wrong hands are a menace but in the right hands restrain crime. Who knows how many robberies and muggings have been avoided because of the uncertainty of knowing if the potential victim is armed? The fear of being shot is a mighty deterrent.

In the United States, there are over 300 million civilian-owned rifles, shotguns and handguns. There are existing federal regulations and a patchwork of state laws restricting gun ownership. Some gun laws disarm everyone but the assailant. But even an outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment would not eliminate weapons.

Suicide bombers and senseless shooters like those in Newtown, Aurora and Arizona are next to impossible to stop. A broad review of history shows as long as there have been people there have been murders. Our problem is the human condition, not the guns.

David Rousseau

Haverhill

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