By Budd Schroeder
The Another Voice article by Leah Gun Barrett contained several glaring errors, starting with the assumption that the SAFE Act will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. That is like those saying that banning drugs will prevent addicts from getting high, and the last century laws on Prohibition would stop people from getting drunk. The simple equation to back up the uselessness of the SAFE law is that, by definition, criminals don’t obey laws.
Honest people don’t need the law to be good. Doing the math regarding the number of guns in America and the incidents of gun violence, less than one-quarter of 1 percent of gun owners are criminals. That is an impressive statistic. To the law-abiding gun owner, a gun is a tool, not a weapon.
If a carpenter uses a hammer to drive nails, it is a tool. If he smashes someone’s skull with it, the hammer becomes a weapon. The gun is a tool for more than 99 percent of gun owners. The only thing that makes a tool a weapon is the person holding it. Laws should be focused on the misuse of the tool, not the tool itself.
The SAFE Act is not popular in New York State. In upstate New York, thousands of “Repeal the SAFE law” signs are on the front lawns of people who disagree. Fifty-two county legislatures have filed resolutions to repeal this law. The Sheriff’s Association in the state has publicly voiced its opposition to the law.
Adam Lanza didn’t need a Bushmaster rifle to do his despicable deed. Considering the haplessness of his tiny victims, he could have killed them all with an old-fashioned double shotgun. Who could have stopped him from reloading two rounds at a time? If he had 10-round magazines instead of the 30-round ones, it wouldn’t have made a bit of a difference.
Of the 40-plus homicides in Buffalo last year, only one involved a long gun, and that was a shotgun. No rifle of any kind was used. The majority of the killers used handguns, which are regulated to the extreme. It is very difficult to obtain a handgun license and it can take up to a year to have one issued. Yet, the criminals don’t seem to have any more difficulty or inconvenience in obtaining one than they do in procuring illegal drugs.
It has been a felony since 1968 to buy a firearm without a background check. Straw purchases are a felony. Making false statements on the federal form to buy a firearm is a felony, yet only a minuscule number of people who have done this have been prosecuted.
There are more than enough laws controlling the illegal use and purchase of firearms, actually more than 20,000 of them. If these were properly enforced, the misuse of firearms and illegal possession would do more to reduce gun crime than the SAFE Act.
Budd Schroeder is chairman of the board of the Shooters Committee on Political Education.