NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

June 4, 2014

Different points of view a necessity

To the editor:

In his May 22 article on upcoming new gun legislation, Christian Wade rightly foreshadowed the upcoming debate on a gun safety bill unveiled last week by House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Unfortunately, Mr. Wade only represented one side in this ongoing issue — that of the Gun Owners’ Action League, the Massachusetts affiliate of the NRA. He either is unaware of, or chose not to include, representatives of such groups as the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (a 36-member organization including faith groups and the League of Women Voters), Stop Handgun Violence or Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

The legislation includes recommendations of a legislative task force headed by Jack McDevitt, Northeastern University’s associate dean for research for the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Their analysis of gun violence and their suggestions to strengthen existing law in Massachusetts emphasizes the link between this state’s effective gun laws and its relatively low firearm homicide and suicide rates when compared with other states — even as it acknowledges that there is still room for improvement in existing Massachusetts law.

It is a statistical fact that states with lax gun regulation such as Mississippi and Alaska (18.3 and 17.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people, respectively) experience a higher level of gun deaths than strong regulation states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts (3.5 and 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000, respectively).

Although our gun violence prevention efforts have in the past been a model for the nation, Massachusetts has done nothing on this issue for many years, leaving dangerous gaps in the laws.

As a nation, we find ourselves again reeling after the events in Isla Vista, Calif. Sadly, this is no longer a shocking news story: There have been at least 45 school shootings on K-12 or college campuses, in 24 states, since Newtown.

We are naive to think this couldn’t happen in our city.

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