To the editor:
Thank you for The Salem News column “Pols need to follow citizens’ lead,’ by Nelson Benton in the May 30 edition.
Reducing gun violence via commonsense legislation and policy is overwhelmingly popular with the good people of Massachusetts. The fact is: Our state has some of the strongest gun laws in the land and one of the very lowest firearm fatality rates in the United States (Journal of the American Medical Association, “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States,” May 13, 2013). While we are doing relatively well in comparison with our sister states, more than 200 Massachusetts men, women or children lose their lives to the scourge of gun violence each and every year (CDC — National Center for Injury Prevention and Control).
Hurrah to House Speaker DeLeo for his thorough deliberation and prudent proposal for gun-reform legislation based on the facts and science of gun violence. Mr. DeLeo’s bill includes two much-needed provisions to reduce gun violence and promote public health and safety. First, check criminal background at point-of-sale for all firearm sales (including private sales) within the state. Second, send records of adjudicated mental illness from Massachusetts to the national background check system used exclusively for firearm sales. These two commonsense measures will reduce access to firearms by potential purchasers who present a dangerous risk to other people or themselves.
A society may be judged fairly on how well it promotes health and safety of its children, women and men. A democracy may be judged fairly on how well elected representatives reflect the citizens’ sense. Speaker DeLeo courageously proposes gun reform favored by the people. The Legislature would do well to heed his lifesaving lead.
Matthew W. Nugent