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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: People, not guns, kill people

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I have immense respect for Bob Costas -- his mastery of his broadcast craft has made it an art form. Last Sunday night, however, he was wrong ("Costas sets off firestorm with anti-gun spiel about Belcher," Web, Monday).

During halftime of Sunday night's football game, Mr. Costas gave a monologue on national television concerning the tragic death of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher in which he expressed the opinion that if Belcher had not had a gun, he and his girlfriend would still be alive. In theory, Mr. Costas is right. It makes sense to say that guns propel crime, but for those of us who study these theories for a living, reality tells a different story. The major flaw in this idea, above all else, is a simple mistake: A gun does not commit murder. It is not guns, but people who kill other people.

The Brady bill had no measurable effect on violent crime. Gun violence had been decreasing before the bill passed, and there was no increase after it expired. Canada, the nation most similar to ours in culture, has strict gun laws, but their violent crime rate is double that of the United States. Other Western nations show a similar trend. The more concealed weapons permits a particular area issues, the lower the violent crime rate. Moreover, there are now 78 percent fewer deaths on school property -- despite the high-profile massacres -- from guns than there were a generation ago. Violent crime in Washington saw no change after passing strict gun laws, while at the same time, neighboring Baltimore saw a significant decline.

Suicides tell a different story. The wider availability of guns has led to more suicides by guns, but not more suicides overall. This tells us that the same number of people are taking their own lives now as compared with a generation ago, but they are now choosing to use guns rather than other methods. If someone is determined to take his own life, he will do it one way or another. Having a gun just makes it easier.

I still have tremendous respect for Bob Costas, and there is always a place for gun-control discussions, but the facts need to be told. More guns lead to less crime, as counterintuitive as that might seem. Before joining any movement to ban guns, the public needs to know that no matter how much we want to blame violence on guns, it is people who kill other people.

MATTHEW YOUNG

La Grange, Ky.

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