Gun control not the answer to senseless violence

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During his news conference in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Obama pushed hard for Congress to quickly enact new and more restrictive gun control measures.

He also signed 23 executive orders positioned as actions to keep our nation’s children safe.

When reviewing the list of measures the president enacted and those he’s pressing legislators to accomplish, only one potentially could have protected the children and adults shot down in Newtown, Conn. The rest are nothing more than knee-jerk political reaction built on emotion. If realized, their impact will do little more than punish law-abiding citizens through the erosion of Second Amendment rights.

The ban on so-called “assault weapons” that the president and some Congressional leaders and big city mayors are calling for was proven ineffective in curbing gun-related crime when in place from 1994 to 2004.

According to FBI statistics, less than 2.6 percent of gun-related murders are committed with rifles of any sort, much less the semi-automatic rifles being targeted by this proposal. Further, the terms “military-style rifles” and “assault weapons” used by anti-gun advocates aren’t easily defined. They are nothing more than cosmetic descriptions of rifles that are legally owned and used by hundreds of thousands of Americans for hunting, target shooting and competitive shooting activities.

Restrictions like that recently signed into law in New York by Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting magazine capacity to seven rounds of ammunition in his state will be, at best, unreasonable.

Considering the abundance of inexpensive 10-, 20- and 30-round magazines that flooded the market following the sunset of the assault weapons ban in 2004, and the ongoing legal manufacture and sale of these since, should such a restriction occur nationwide only the criminal will have large capacity magazines.

Lawful gun owners will be left only with the hope of being more accurate than their aggressors should they be in need of defending themselves or their family with a revolver, semi-automatic pistol, rifle or shotgun that could hold more than seven rounds.

Among the president’s plans, only the proposal to federally fund placement of armed school resource officers within schools could potentially be effective in protecting children in schools. But the $150 million that he proposes using through a new school safety program will fall short in doing so.

Considering there were slightly more than 67,000 public elementary schools across the country during the 2009-2010 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, we don’t see how an average $2,239 in funding could be viewed as a serious action to protect children.

Here’s the sobering truth most in the gun-grabbing fraternity fail or refuse to acknowledge: Evil is present in the world. Some among us cannot or will not play nicely in the sandbox of society.

Rushing to enact new and more aggressively restrictive laws will not eradicate evil’s presence. Nor will eroding the rights of the lawful to keep and bear arms and, in doing so, to defend themselves reduce evil’s presence or diminish the damage it can do in the lives of the innocent.

The belief that increased gun control will create a more peaceful and civilized society is naïve at best.

The fallacy of this mindset is a misplaced view that new and limiting legislation concerning firearms will cause the criminal to behave. The fact of the matter is that the extreme mentally ill who commit these crimes haven’t the capacity nor the desire to follow the law in the first place.

Adding new laws to the books through the legislative process, attempts to circumvent Congress through the misuse of executive orders or watering down of the rights of residents who legally own and use their firearms will not change this fact.

• This editorial originally appeared in The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown.