, Salem, MA


April 16, 2013

Letter: Gun controls don’t stop crimes

To the editor:

Brian Watson’s article to further restrict the Second Amendment, though quite emotional, is lacking in critical thought.

None of the tragedies mentioned would be prevented by the measures he advocates. The shooters either passed FBI background checks or stole the guns. Blaming private sales without these checks ignores the fact. Meanwhile, the great majority of private sales are indeed run through licensed dealers with NCIS checks. But even so, given the hundreds of millions of guns in the country, any law with registration will drive many onto the black market for criminals to get.

Next, high-capacity magazines have no effect on the outcome of the shootings described. Mr. Watson tugs at your heartstrings with the image of a Sandy Hook victim being shot 11 times, but the fact is it was the first bullet that killed her. Mass shootings don’t end when the killer stops for a few seconds to change clips. They end when opposing forces arrive. And again, criminalizing the possession of such accessories only drives them into criminal hands.

Most importantly, gun control is proven not to work.

For example, Massachusetts passed the Bartley-Fox Handgun Bill in 1976. It mandates a one-year prison term for anyone illegally carrying a gun. Subsequent studies (Robbins et al., 1980) found that gun-related arrests decreased 23 percent, while weapons seizures without arrest increased 120 percent. Police made fewer apprehensions in order to evade this law and not subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to arrest. Meanwhile, defendants with no incentive to plead guilty tripled the number of cases going to trial. Prosecutors now routinely reduce the charges from “illegally carrying” to “illegally possessing” a gun in order to plead out and increase the flow of cases through the courts. The result is that less than 5 percent of offenders receive the mandatory sentence and the law has no demonstrable effect on crime rates.

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