January 17, 2013
Sent To My Senators
I write as a citizen of the State of Indiana and a concerned voter to share my views and concerns on the recent discussions of firearm control that have taken center stage in the recent weeks.
First, some background about me: I grew up in Indiana, in a small farming community, and after graduating from Ball State University I moved to Georgia, then on to Arizona and Colorado, before finally coming back to Indiana. I have spent over a decade as a paramedic in Atlanta and Phoenix and Denver, and have provided medical care to dozens of victims of violence. I am a gun owner, a recreational shooter, and enjoy hunting as well.
I was raised to treat firearms with the respect they deserve, and to utilize them as the tool they are. I've used firearms to take deer in Nebraska, elk in Colorado, and feral hogs in Texas. I've used a firearm to shoot paper targets, sport clays, and the occasional empty soda can. No firearm in my hands has EVER been pointed at another human, nor will it unless that human intends harm to myself, my wife, or my children.
I work hard at my job to support my family, I provide for their well being, and I refuse to allow violence to be directed toward them.
Like all legal and responsible gun owners, I was sickened by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut, as well as the theater in Aurora, Colorado, and every other time when a firearm is used for illegal purposes against another human.
However, I demand that you and all other elected officials take VERY seriously the rights of innocent gun owners and not enact legislation that limits our right to own guns.
I do not feel that knee-jerk legislation is the answer to preventing tragedies such as the one that occurred in New Town, CT, Aurora, CO or Virginia Tech. I believe that educating the population as a whole on gun safety, preventing guns from falling into the hands of criminals and the mentally challenged, and imposing severe sentences on the perpetrators of gun crime are all solutions that have a much better chance of actually preventing death and injury in this country.
The clamor for a ban on "assault weapons" is based on emotion, not fact. Those in favor of such bans would have us believe that the streets are bathed in blood from the use of "assault rifles", however the evidence contradicts these claims. In 2011, the FBI data showed that of all murders, 323 were committed using ANY type of rifle (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-11). 496 people were killed with blunt objects (such as hammers or clubs) and a staggering 1,694 were killed using a knife.
A report provided to the Department of Justice in 2004 regarding the expiration of the previous "Assault Weapons Ban" enacted during the Clinton Presidency stated "Should it be renewed, the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. [Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban." (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_final2004.pdf) That same report also stated that "assault weapons" were used in only 2% of all crimes. The report went on to state "…other analyses using a variety of national and local data sources found no clear ban effects on certain types of murders that were thought to be more closely associated with the rapid-fire features of assault weapons and other semiautomatics equipped with large capacity magazines. The ban did not produce declines in the average number of victims per incident of gun murder or gun murder victims with multiple wounds."
Simply put, very few people are killed by assault weapons, and those that DO use assault weapons to kill innocent people obtain such weapons through illicit means. Placing a ban, restriction, or limitation on such guns serves only to limit MY rights as a law abiding citizen and makes my job of protecting my family more difficult. Further, such bans have, historically, focused not on the lethal attributes, but on cosmetic features.
Banning a firearm because it has a "pistol grip" doesn't make anyone safer. A shotgun shell is just as lethal from my dad's old Winchester 1100 as it is from a pistol grip Mossberg. My AR-15 shoots .223 ammunition, same as my granddad's Ruger Ranch Gun. Banning cosmetic features is a pointless waste of time, money, and effort, and does nothing to enhance the safety of society.
Certainly, it is reasonable to place SOME limitations on civilian firearm ownership, and such laws already exist. The National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, the Brady Hangun Violence Prevention Act... All of these laws are already in place, and those laws should be enforced. However, the answer to violence in our society is not MORE laws and restrictions on the right of people to own firearms.
Consider, for a moment, the number of laws broken during the Sandy Hook school shooting:
He stole firearms that were owned by someone else.
He was in possession of two pistols that he was not legally allowed to possess.
He was in possession of two rifles that he was not legally allowed to possess.
He was in possession of a shotgun that he was not legally allowed to possess.
He used those firearms to kill his mother.
He took firearms to a school property.
He entered the school building.
He used firearms to commit murder.
NONE of the firearm laws already in place stopped him. Are we to believe that "just one more law" will? I am not so naive, Senator.
I want you, as my Senator, to stand against any bill that would limit my ability to obtain a firearm, limit the number of rounds of ammunition I can have in that firearm, or limit the number or types of firearms I can purchase.
Vote against any attempts to ban "assault weapons". This is my request to you, Senator.