Opinion: We need common-sense gun safety laws

Published: 4/11/2022 7:01:17 AM
Modified: 4/11/2022 7:00:06 AM

James Fieseher MD, FAAFP, of Dover is a recently retired primary care physician.

When it comes to protecting the public, prevention is always the best policy. Not only does preventing a disaster save lives, but it also saves money as well. It’s time we take the same approach to gun violence.

According to a recent New York Times article, there were 9 mass shooting events (as defined by 4 or more deaths per incident) on the first weekend of Spring (March 18-20).

Other gun-related fatalities occurred that didn’t make the 4 death criteria that weekend as well. Since gun violence historically peaks in the summer months, these early numbers may be an omen.

With gun violence and gun-related deaths on the rise in the U.S., now is the time to take the necessary steps to prevent firearm-related deaths and injuries here in the Granite State.

Cities typically see a high percentage of gun violence, especially Chicago. But the highest increase in mass shootings was in states like Texas and Florida. These are states with large populations and have few firearm restrictions. Most of those fatalities have been to gun owners or families of gun owners.

Statistically, owning a gun doesn’t make you safer, it makes you a target. For example, one of the gun violence incidents on that March 18 weekend started over a spilled drink outside a pizzeria in Norfolk, VA. That incident left 2 people dead, including a reporter for a local newspaper.

Most of the recent shooters were not criminals (at least before the shootings) but regular citizens who were sold on the idea that owning and carrying a gun would make their lives safer. No group has felt the impact of rising gun violence more than law enforcement officers.

Last year, a record 458 law enforcement officers died from shooting fatalities, according to the 2022 Law Enforcement Officers Fatality Report. That is an increase of 55% over the previous year.

New Hampshire has not had a mass shooting incident yet, despite having among the fewest gun regulations in the country. We can thank our small size and relatively low population density for that, at least for now. But with our growing population and the growing trend of gun violence in general, it is only a matter of time before we witness our own mass shooting event.

This is not the time to wait for a mass shooting event to happen. That would be like waiting for the house to burn down before installing smoke detectors. We need gun safety laws in place to protect all citizens, gun owners and non-owners alike, from all gun-related tragedies (accidental, intentional, lethal and non-lethal).

Not only will common-sense gun safety laws protect each of us, but they will also protect our law enforcement officers and allow them the tools they need to keep guns out of the hands of people who are most likely to misuse guns, such as suicidally depressed individuals, felons and people with criminal intent.

Gun manufacturers and gun advocacy groups have taken advantage of a general distrust in government to promote gun and ammunition sales. When people lose faith in the ability of their local, state or federal officials to protect them, they look to take matters into their own hands.

Elected officials who espouse distrust in government and partisanship to gain political power have only made things worse. While we may never be able to surmount this destructive political tactic, we can at least come together to restore faith in our law enforcement officers and simultaneously give them the laws they need to protect themselves in the line of duty while taking guns out of the hands of the people most likely to do us all harm.

Let’s not wait for a mass shooting in New Hampshire. Let’s take some reasonable, common-sense measures to prevent the tragedy that has taken so many innocent lives in other states.

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