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February 17, 2013

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Niagara Gazette — Let’s not return to Wild West

Many people have complained how New York’s new gun law and proposed laws elsewhere infringe their Second Amendment rights.

These people are focused on the wrong issue. The real issue is: how many people do we allow to be killed each year with guns?

It is indisputable that if there were no guns, no one would be killed by guns. It follows logically that if there were few guns, few people would be killed by guns (intentionally or accidentally). Given the number of guns in the U.S., a significant number of people are killed every year with guns (whether “guns kill people” or “people kill people,” these people die from gunshot wounds).

I am not arguing for a ban on guns; I myself like to target-shoot. Rather, gun regulation is needed to reduce gun deaths. It is really no different than regulating the use of automobiles (except there is no constitutional protection specifically for automobiles). 

Automobiles kill people, including pedestrians. We do not ban automobiles because they kill people. Instead, we license drivers, require registration and safety equipment, and regulate their use. We also ban vehicles not meeting government requirements.

Just as we ban some vehicles, the government also bans some weapons — a partial “assault weapons ban” has existed for many years on automatic weapons and machine guns. No one argues for a repeal of that ban as an infringement of Second Amendment rights. Therefore, the issue is not whether the government can impose gun restrictions, but what those restrictions should be.

For those who decry any infringement of their right to bear arms: do you want to return to the days of the Wild West, where everyone was armed and “justice” was meted out with a gun?

Jeffrey Harris

Davenport

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