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Letter: What was the harm?

Re “I voted to improve background check system” (Monitor Forum, May 7):

After reading Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s position regarding her No vote to increased background checks for gun purchases, something struck me as rather odd. Nowhere does she say what the harm would have been in voting for the bill. As a former prosecutor, the senator should be aware that sometimes the “obvious” law on the books isn’t enough to put away a criminal. Probably the most famous example is Al Capone, who was not put away for mob activities, but was stopped by tax evasion laws. The latest attempt to curb gun violence might not have been much, but it would have been something and could have sent a message that Congress is serious about preventing school shootings.

JAMES COLE

Concord

TCB wrote: 05/07/2013 In the recent mislabeled legislation, the title, “background checks” was just the cover of a much bigger book. Sen. Ayotte was wise enough to look at the legislation in detail. That’s the kind of legislator we need. Or, you could have legislators like Pelosi who says, “You can see what’s in the health care bill after you pass it”. Is this what you want in a legislator? Is that responsible on any level? Would you want that kind of legislative process going on when a more rational government comes back into power? Really – is that the system you want? We need more like Sen. Ayotte who look beyond the outer label on the package to the details inside. ”. I don’t see this patrol thrown at the Democratic legislators who voted like Sen. Ayotte. Proof positive this has nothing to do with public safety - this is pure partisan politics!

T - I'm sure you meant vitriol being thrown at Democratic legislators (curse you, Spellcheck!). I think that the reason you are seeing so much emphasis on how Sen. Ayotte voted in these pages is simple - she's our senator, and those other Democratic (and Republican) legislators who voted against the bill are not. Rightly or wrongly, there are many people who believe her vote was not representative of the wishes of her constituents, and they want her to know. So, yes, there's politics involved, but it's not all partisanship.

A recent poll showed that most folks believe that crime is higher now than it was 20 years ago, thanks to the anti gun media. Recent Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics has put out some numbers recently. Criime envolving firearms hs been cut in half since 1993. Violent crimes is even better, it is a fourth of what it was in 93. In 93, 16 states had right to carry concealed weapons, now 43 do. Firearms have been used 100,000 times in self defense. Get informed. The media is capitalizing on the fact that folks are not informed.

For those interested in reviewing the poll that Rabbit is referring to, here's the link: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware/ What I find interesting is that the major decline took place between 1993 and 1997, and then things leveled off a bit, but dropping slightly again in the past few years. Nowhere in the study does it say that the public's lack of awareness of this decline is due to anti-gun media, as Rabbit speculates. It also does not say that concealed carry is a factor - that is more speculation on Rabbit's part. Rather, the report cites demographics as the primary factor in the decline. Whatever the cause, it is a trend to be thankful for.

Correlation is not causation. There are other factors that can more easily account for the decline, including a drop in unwanted pregnancies in low-income neighborhoods. Let's open that can of worms and watch the comments swell to 250.

Bingo, fellow Freakonomics fan.

The following mass murderers PASSED "background checks" and legally purchased firearms they used in their crimes. Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech; 32 killed, 17 wounded) Nidal Malik Hasan (Ft. Hood; 13 killed, 29 wounded), Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson / Gabby Giffords; 6 killed, 12 wounded) James Eagan Holmes (Aurora; 12 killed, 58 wounded). Even Adam Lanza's (Sandy Hook; 27 killed) mother, the source of his firearms, passed a back ground check. Adam Lanza, like many other mass shooters, illegally obtained the weapons he used in Newtown. So, while I don't necessarily think tightening background checks is a bad idea, I will say that the paralell between Newtown and better background checks, like this would have prevented this crime, is a false statement and a political red herring. I keep seeing those pushing gun control using the phrase "common sense" yet when one looks at the facts there is little if any common sense to be found inthe gun control agenda being pushed by our President.

I agree gdn1. If this legislation was really for background checks involving mentally unstable people and stuck to that fact it probably would have passed. Instead the peoples representatives tacked on feigned controls and twisted this thing around to gain a little more ground to legislate more guns away from lawful gun owners. It shouldn't have passed.

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