While I realize it’s against convention to engage in a tit-for-tat argument in New Times’ letters page, I am compelled to respond to Joe Erikat’s comment (“Why can’t you comprehend this about guns?” March 21) on my recent opinion piece on guns (“It might be time to say ‘Enough,’” March 14). The argument that “gun control laws have the effect of disarming only the law-abiding” is logically misleading and provably false. In fact, the imposition of background checks has a two-fold benefit.
On the front end, “criminals” who know they cannot pass a background check are forced to look elsewhere for their weapons of choice. Who would argue that putting up such a roadblock—simply making it more difficult for rogues and madmen to acquire firearms—does not help keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them to kill, to rob, and to injure? Not everyone who might do harm with a gun knows a black-market dealer, and those who don’t might think better of whatever it is they have planned.
Secondarily, statistics show that background checks have stopped more than 700,000 sales to individuals prohibited from owning guns in the last 10 years alone. Those 700,000 denials represent the effective and appropriate use of background checks, keeping fugitives, felons, domestic abusers, and other ne’er-do-wells from acquiring guns. It is beyond dispute that in those cases background checks kept firearms out of the wrong hands.
The argument that background checks disarm only law-abiding citizens is demonstrably false, and until the gun lobby agrees to debate the issue honestly, they are only helping perpetuate the escalation of an ongoing American tragedy.
-- Jim Mallon - San Luis Obispo