To the Editor:
Empowered by Supreme Court decisions supporting an individual right to keep and bear arms, the NRA, NSSF, and affiliated groups have been working hard to expand gun rights and challenge gun limits on the federal, state and local level. Just last month the NSSF's Illinois affiliate won its lawsuit challenging Chicago's ban on the sale of handguns.
The results of this activism are starting to become clear. Florida, an early adopter of Stand Your Ground laws, has become notorious for gun violence, as the Jordan Davis case and the theater texting murder show. What once were arguments and fist fights are now too often lethal, with people carrying guns potentially absolved of responsibility for the deaths caused. In Missouri a 25 percent increase in the number of murders followed a 2007 repeal of pistol permit requirements. A recent study in Pediatrics describes the large extent and cost of firearm injury and death on children and teens.
The NSSF's website highlights a two-decade decline in the number of violent crimes with firearms as evidence that the increase in guns purchased is not a problem – even suggesting that more guns lead to less crime. Data that doesn't support this message – such as the CDC's findings of an increase in overall firearm deaths over the past ten years and a recent JAMA study showing that states with more gun laws are associated with lower firearm death rates – are ignored or dismissed.
The NSSF opposes the upcoming confirmation of Dr Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General for considering gun violence a public health issue, accusing him of “injecting his anti-gun philosophy into medical care.” The NSSF website cites Dr Timothy Wheeler, a long-time gun advocate employed by the Second Amendment Foundation, the organization that wanted “Guns Save Lives Day” to be celebrated on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook School massacre. Dr Wheeler's mission is to discredit groups and studies concerned with the public health impact of gun violence. This active rejection of all data except that which supports their interests is the opposite of responsible.
When sportsman and gun rights advocate Dick Metcalf is instantly ostracized after a long and respected career as a journalist for Guns & Ammo magazine for suggesting that limits to Second Amendment rights are appropriate and should be discussed, you know that we are dealing with extremism. Scary extremism. Backed by a wealthy industry with profits to protect.
This week's Supreme Court decision dismissing lawsuits seeking to expand gun rights for teens in Texas offers a glimmer of hope that rationality may eventually prevail. In the interest of our most basic Constitutional right to life, let's follow Dick Metcalf's suggestion. Let's talk limits.
31 Osborne Hill Road, Sandy Hook February 26, 2014