To the editor:

Over the last couple of days, the Leavenworth Times has devoted a lot of space to articles discussing firearms in this country. Most of these articles propose “common sense” changes to laws that are based on skewed statistics or outright lies and would do nothing to prevent recent atrocities.

First, the Wichita Eagle editorial on Feb. 28 stated that the Dickey Amendment of 1996 prevents the CDC from researching gun-related violence. This is misleading, the best example being when Obama issued an Executive Order in 2012 directing the CDC to do just that. The subsequent study and report “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence” was released in June 2013. The CDC is quite capable of researching firearm-related violence. The problem is that firearm-related violence is not a separate issue from other violent crimes, as seen by the rates of violent crimes in countries that have strict gun control laws. All violent crimes are a product of that society in which they occur, and are based in how that society deals with poverty, mental illness, disillusionment of the lower economic or other estranged classes, and substance abuse among many other issues. Oh, and that CDC article? It found that the rate of defensive gun use was 2 to 10 times more than criminal gun use.

The article also contends that the minimum age to purchase firearms should be raised to 21 and is echoed by Mr. Oberlin in Thursday’s letter to the editor. I will be looking forward to meeting Sen. Pat Roberts’ opponents when he is up for re-election, and I am disappointed that a senator from Kansas would support this blatant violation of the Second Amendment. There is nothing magical about 21 years of age that gives a person any more responsibility or improved decision-making than they had at 18. This is simply a holdover from medieval beliefs in the power of  7. In fact, any developmental psychology text will tell you that those changes occur around 25 to 27 years of age for most people, while never for too many others. While I agree with most of his statements, Mr. Oberlin states a couple of inaccuracies in his letter. First, the minimum age to purchase tobacco is still 18 in most of the country; this has changed only in small areas where local laws prevail. Second, the age to rent a vehicle is set by rental companies and is generally 21, not 25. Those under 25 pay higher premiums for insurance purposes. If we are going to decide to take away constitutional rights from those under 21, should we not also rescind the 26th Amendment and raise the voting age back up to 21? And I must ask, if under-21s are such poor decision-makers, then why is it that the media wants us to listen to emotional teenagers being propped up by gun control activists Shannon Watts and Michael Bloomberg? 

The Times also printed an editorial from Lawrence Journal-World whose entire premise was that teaching gun safety using a proven method that teaches children not to play with guns was bad because the organization that created the teaching method had been teaching gun safety for more than a century, and when it saw Second Amendment rights being violated, created a separate, political organization. This article misrepresented the NRA and confused it with the NRA-ILA. It also misrepresented quotes by LaPierre (he was referring to the ATF’s Waco and Ruby Ridge disasters which were exacerbated by extreme heavy-handedness by government agencies). The worst assumption is that “Families interested in gun safety for their children can certainly do so, just not through their public schools.” This is a disastrous approach, similar to “my kids don’t need a vaccine because all the other kids have one.” It completely ignores the potential that children from a non-firearm owning home visit a home with firearms without basic gun safety knowledge. Firearm safety should be taught in schools. This is the only way to reach the majority of children and reduce injury and deaths; think of it as a vaccination program against accidental firearm deaths.

Mr. Oberlin and Mr. Maduska both supported removing gun-free zones and placing designated armed personnel in schools. This should be a “no brainer” as all school shooters I have seen reported were stopped by someone shooting back. There are training programs to help these individuals respond quickly and effectively to stop active shooters and prevent further loss of life. While unarmed security personnel can be effective in 99 percent of a school’s problems, these people are nothing more than bullet magnets in the event of an active shooter. Just ask yourself, how much good could Aaron Feis have done if he had been armed while waiting for Broward County Sheriff to enter Stoneman Douglas HS? What if he had had backup from other armed personnel in the school? Would 17 people have died that day?

Lastly, the Wichita Eagle article parrots the phrase that the U.S. has more firearms-related deaths than any other country. The truth is, we don’t even break the top 100 when compared to all countries, not just cherry-picked, low crime rate nations. Gun control laws do not work as promised, they are simply violations of our constitutional rights. After all, Mexico only has one legal gun store in the whole country, and how is that working at stopping their gun violence?  Tell Sens. Roberts and Moran, and Reps. Jenkins, Marshall and Yoder, to support HR 38 National Concealed Carry Reciprocity and HR 3668 SHARE Act, and to oppose any new restrictions on the Second Amendment.