LETTER from MARY ANNE WHELAN, MD
To the Editor:
In his most recent letters to the editor on the subject of gun regulation, Mr. Brockway seems to have the shoe on the wrong foot when it comes to factual statements, a particularly bad error for a blacksmith.
In addition to his past claims that the Democratic presidential candidates all wanted to take your guns away, which he surely knew to be false – none of them had ever said any such thing – he has now decided that Kirsten Gillibrand wants to put you in jail for not surrendering them. Oh please.
And with regard to the consequences of the Australian gun buy-back program, the statement that there was a 400 percent increase in gun violence as a consequence was long ago flagged by Facebook as false information. In fact there has been a decrease in gun-related shootings and crimes of violence since the measures taken in Australia.
Here are some facts for him, and if he disagrees with them he can argue with the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatrics, which is the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
From Pediatrics, 2019: STATE GUN LAWS AND PEDIATRIC FIREARM-RELATED MORTALITY: “States with laws requiring universal background
checks for firearms purchase in effect for equal to or more than five years had lower pediatric mortality rates.”
From Pediatrics, 2017: “The shooter playing with a gun was the most common circumstance surrounding unintentional firearm deaths of both older and younger children.”
From the New England Journal of Medicine, 2018: Fifteen per cent of all deaths in children and adolescents were firearm related. Of all firearm deaths at all ages, 26 percent occurred among children and adolescents.
In March and April of 2020, gun sales soared, a typical American response to feeling threatened, this time by a virus – perhaps people thought they could shoot it – and pediatric deaths from unintentional shootings by children increased by 45 percent compared to the rates in the preceding three years, as more guns became domestically available.
These facts add up to an appalling number of firearm related deaths, many of which could be prevented by banning assault weapons, reducing permissible magazine loads, and requiring safe storage and documentable ownership.
Screening out mentally unstable persons from access to ownership is also entirely appropriate, and in fact has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The Second Amendment was never meant to confer any right to indiscriminate ownership or use.
Mr. Brockway for some reason refers to deaths occurring in urban “war zones” as being “questionable”. What in the world does that mean?
And what is the relevance of opioid-related deaths, DWI deaths, or the Twin Towers? I’m glad not to be blamed (as a physician) for contributing to the opioid epidemic, but I would never take legislation intended to prevent over-prescribing personally.
The fact remains that firearm related deaths can be reduced by sensible legislation; that sanctuaries are for people, not inanimate objects, and that the courts of New York have held that nothing in the SAFE Act is in conflict with the Second Amendment.
It does not impede target practice or traditional hunting. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. If you don’t like it you could try to overturn it by legal means – Adrian Kuzminski, in a recent piece in this paper, offers the model of appeals to the principle of “Home Rule” – but as a state law it does surely confer an obligation for enforcement, both on the part of county board members and the police, as it stands.
And you don’t need assault weapons – which were not even conceived of by the framers of the Second Amendment – to hunt, target shoot, or protect yourself in your own home. It’s fine that Mr. Brashear and his friends and family wouldn’t want to be around people who don’t respect their firearms, but it should also be a legal obligation to register them, keep them safely away from children and adolescents, and take full responsibility for their use and transfer, which obviously isn’t happening now. What are the objections to that?
MARY ANNE WHELAN, MD