To the Editor:
We the People
In 1791 when our Bill of Rights including the Second Amendment, “Right to Bear Arms,” was adopted the population of our country was around 3.9 million, 222 years later in 2013 our population now stands at over 312 million. With such a precipitous increase in population and population density it only stands to reason that even a document as unique and enduring as our constitution must be subject to change and I can’t help but think that this was also the long term intention of its creators.
There have been various acts, laws and bans relating to firearms that have been put into place since 1934. A number of these pieces of legislation have resulted in shifts that have been quite positive. I will highlight just a few. Take for instance the Machine Gun Ban voted into law in 1986 by Ronald Regan. Is anyone today arguing about the right to bear machine guns?
Look at the impact of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, introduced by our own Charles E Schumer and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. As a consequence of this law, the FBI formed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and in cooperation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) ran 107 million background checks on people attempting to buy handguns between 1994 and 2009. These background checks resulted in 1.9 million denials to purchase guns. In 2008, 69 percent of the denials were felons and fugitives from the law. In 2009 64 percent of the denials were felons and fugitives from the law. Keeping all these handguns out of the hands of felons and fugitives certainly does seem like a pretty good consequence to me.
Next, let’s look at Federal Assault Weapon Ban (AWB), put into place for 10 years from 1994 to 2004. During just four years from 1990 to 1994 the ATF determined that there were a total of 1.4 million guns involved in crime. Prior to AWB 11.82 percent of these weapons were of the type included in the ban. After AWB this percentage dropped to 1.61 percent. Once again the AWB proved to be a piece of firearms legislation that did, in fact, produce positive results.
Have all the many legislative laws governing firearms solved our “gun violence” problem? No, obviously they have not, but when you look at the facts it cannot be denied that they have at least helped.
Of course, there will always be an extensive panels of “experts” that will testify before the public that for instance, tobacco and smoking do not cause cancer or that burning vast quantities of fossil fuels could not possibly lead to global warming and massive species extinctions, or that a few million people owning firearms with 30 shot clips designed to kill people isn’t really a part of the problem.
We do in fact have the incredible privilege of living in a democracy where we all don’t have to march to the beat of agendas that are based upon avarice, greed and distorted visions of reality. There is also no need for us to perpetuate a climate of violence against others and against our larger living world. We the people do in fact have the right to decide the best way to protect our children and our world.
Roger Frary, Putnam Station