I would like to make some comments regarding "gun control." First of all, I am not a member of the National Rifle Association and I am opposed to many of the comments originating from that group.
I am a retired law enforcement officer and have been a weapons owner all my life. I have owned numerous hand guns and long guns, some of which I have disposed of over the years since my retirement.
The whole issue regarding this subject has turned into a hysterical, political, feel-good, overblown, night-after-night media subject. Illegal guns will never be controlled in New York state. Legal weapons are permissible for hunting, target shooting and shooting varmints, and side arms are legal with proper license with all side arms listed on the permit.
Does anyone really believe that some gang banger drug dealer is going to register his weapon, or use a bullet clip that holds five rounds rather than 10? Do the citizens of the country really believe that a convicted criminal, or a gang banger, is going into a sports store in an attempt to purchase a weapon legally to use to commit a crime? I strongly urge all of you to go to the nearest library and research New York state Penal Law. All of section 260 has to do with weapons and punishment.
Section 265 of the NYS Penal Law describes an assault weapon as one that has any two of the following: ability to accept a detachable magazine, has a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip beneath the action of the weapon, a bayonet mount or a flash suppresser. Certain shotguns, including those used for LEGAL turkey hunting and certain side arms, can also be classified as assault weapons.
At the present time, our state has adequate punishment for the grade of the crime committed. We do not need any new laws or more regulations. Enforcing the present laws is all that is necessary. Any person committing a crime with a weapon intends to use the weapon if the victim resists in any way. That person should be convicted and sentenced to the maximum term as allowed by law, no plea deals.
USA Today recently reported that six states are considering new taxes, fees or surcharges on purchases of weapons and ammunition to help pay for the consequences of gun violence. Maybe legislators should also consider a surcharge on alcoholic beverages to cover the consequences of fatal motor vehicle accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.
In 2011 there were 769 homicides in New York state. In the total, 393 were a result of side arms, 16 with shotguns, five with rifles, and the remainder were caused by stabbings, clubs and other assaults. Why is it that when there is a drunken driver accident, we blame the driver, but when there is a shooting, we blame the gun? Both are caused by human negligence.
It is time we stop and reconsider what it will take to stop events like Sandy Hook, and gun control is not the answer. We need to find a way to detect those among us who have a propensity for violence. Will it require the medical profession to report suspected patients to law enforcement? Do we need another branch of government bureaucracy to keep records of mentally unstable people and convicted felons who are prone to violence? There has already been one case of mistaken identity in Western New York; how many more will there be?
The recent legislation requiring background checks was poorly written and contained many sections that had nothing to do with the original concept. Anyone who is truly interested in knowing why this poorly crafted piece of legislation wasn't defeated should go online and read it in its entirety. It is as faulty as the New York State Safe Gun Act.
A recent article in USA Today reported that more than half of all gun dealers in the United States have not been inspected in the past five years. Why? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is undermanned and the number of gun dealers has increased by 16 percent since 2004. The Justice Department report indicated that because of the lack of inspections since 2004, there were 174,679 guns missing from dealer inventories and presumed to be lost or stolen.
I believe that everyone who has thoughts on this issue should take the time to become better informed regarding the real issue. Take time to research all of the laws pertaining to weapons, read all the attempted legislation in its entirety, and then maybe you will understand the real issue, which is illegal weapons possessed by criminals. I think all police agencies that recover weapons at crime scenes should publicize whether or not they were illegal and if they were proceeds of a previous crime.
In closing, the state SAFE gun Act needs to be repealed in its entirety. It is poorly crafted and will not eliminate stolen or illegally owned weapons. It will only create problems for the purchase and sale of legal weapons. In addition to this, it will eventually create another needless political bureaucracy.
David L. Carr is a Westfield resident.