I tend to oppose gun control, although I’m only a little bit “right of center” on the issue. When I was young and irresponsible, I was a rabid supporter of gun control, until I actually spent some time paying careful attention to the arguments being put forth by both sides of the debate. What I found was that while both sides tend to foam at the mouth a bit, the arguments put forth by the pro-gun-control crowd don’t withstand even a little scrutiny. Shoddy research, shoddy statistics, lies, and appeals to emotion rather than fact seem to be pretty much all they can come up with.
A letter to the editor in the October 27, 2005 edition of the Boston Herald is a case in point:
Guns should go
What next can we expect from the gun lobby, which has just made our streets less safe? The story tells us that if we are wounded or killed by a $29.95 defective gun that fires when dropped on the floor, we cannot sue (“Beantown goes ballistic,” Oct. 21). [Note that the referenced story had nothing to do with the newly enacted law to which the letter refers; either the author or editor of the letter inserted the wrong citation.]
The gun industry has been immunized by a conservative Congress answering the clarion call of the National Rifle Association. The law has nothing to do with halting “frivolous law suits,” which our president claims as the basis for the law. It has everything to do with the hefty contributions the NRA makes to politicians. The NRA has one goal: to sell guns. Every piece of competent research has shown that the more guns we have the worse crime becomes. It’s common knowledge here and abroad that America is awash in guns.
Lewis S. Dabney, Chestnut Hill
The writer is a Stop Handgun Violence board member.
Here’s the letter I just sent the Herald in response:
To the editor:
Fair, honest debate over the role of guns in our society is important, but Lewis S. Dabney’s screed against the recently enacted Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“Guns should go”, Oct. 27) is neither fair nor honest.
The Act does not prohibit lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective guns, as Dabney claims. In fact the Act explicitly allows such lawsuits.
The NRA’s nearly three million members, who determine and support its goals, are not gun manufacturers; they are private citizens who wish to protect the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.
Dabney’s claim to the contrary notwithstanding, there is a great deal of “competent research” dispelling the myth of the panacea of gun control and even illustrating how more guns can lead to less crime.
Can Dabney’s gun control theories explain why crime is skyrocketing in Boston although Massachusetts’ gun-control laws, among the strictest in the nation, have not changed? Or how crime in Washington, D.C., the worst in the nation a decade ago, has been halved without increased gun control? Or why crime is so infrequent in Switzerland, where the per capita gun count is higher than anywhere in the United States?
Dabney’s energy would be better spent campaigning for the enforcement of existing laws (“Time to put teeth back in juvenile gun law”, Oct. 26) rather than spreading lies and misinformation.
Jonathan Kamens, Brighton
Dear Jonathon After reading your letter, I did some looking online and found a survey done by a University in Switzerland. From my reading the United States is in first place. “The U.S. has 88.4 guns for every 100 residents.”
In at 2. “Yemen has 54.8 guns per 100 residents”. Sweden ties for tenth place at 31.6 Switzerland did not make the top 10 list. There was one caveat that the numbers are hard to determine, and they sited Yemen and Switzerland. But it was a Swiss research project. So go figure. Where did you get the numbers for Switzerland?
Here is the link to an article from 2016.
I wrote this letter 13 years ago. The statistics now are not what they were then, there has been more, better research since then, we have more, better data than we did then, the situation with guns in the U.S. is very different — and much worse — now than it was then, and the gun issue (along with everything else) is far, far more polarized now than it was then.
I no longer have any respect for the NRA, nor do I any longer believe that the NRA actually represents its members; I believe it is nothing more than a lobbying tool of the gun industry. If you want to know what I currently think about gun control, I suggest you read my posting about it from 2016.