Letter to the Editor: Colorado sheriffs’ gun opinion is off target
Ryan Summerlin March 15, 2013
To the Editor:
The March 1 County Sheriffs of Colorado (CSOC) position paper about pending gun control legislation reads like an NRA manifesto, is appalling and gets a vote of “no confidence”.
Definitive interpretations of the Second Amendment from settled law are the domain of the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Scalia (extreme conservative) wrote in the 2008 court decision (District of Columbia vs Heller) that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited”. The courts have routinely explained “that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose”… “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places … or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms”.
CSOC states that gun control does not lower crime rates. The reason is that inconsistencies in gun laws nationwide allow areas with lax gun laws to undermine areas with stricter laws. Criminals just go to unregulated areas to get weapons.
Ineffective gun control is also an NRA goal. They have successfully lobbied Congress to pass laws severely limiting the authority of the ATF to enforce federal gun regulations (Tiahrt Amendment); requiring Senate approval of an ATF director (position vacant for six years); granting gun manufacturers immunity from liability; and prohibiting the Communicable Disease Center from studying the effects of guns on our society.
U.S. ownership is approaching one gun per person with more guns owned by fewer people. Contrary to CSOC’s opinion, government should know who owns these firearms. The Southern Poverty Law Center who monitors hate groups and extremists nationwide reports there are 1,018 known hate groups (Colorado 15) and 1,274 anti-government groups (Colorado 29). Since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing there have been 103 major domestic terrorist plots, conspiracies and racist rampages. Some were thwarted because the FBI and others had information about the perpetrators.
Mental illness is the new mantra for no gun controls. However, mass shootings by the mentally ill are a small percentage of total annual gun injuries and deaths nationwide. Typical shootings, gang wars and criminal activities excepted, are from bad behavior by average citizens – anger, alcohol, drugs, hate, jealousy, passion, stupidity, etc – not mental illness. Guns added to a bad situation will be used.