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Roger Haglund, Moorhead, Published December 28 2012

Letter: The notion that tough gun laws won’t work is illogical

Maurice Brandt’s letter in Sunday’s (Dec. 23) Forum argues against passing any laws regulating firearms because “you can pass all the laws you want, but criminals don’t obey the law.” Then he says “why, oh why, is this so hard to understand?”

I wonder if Brandt understands that the logical result of his argument is anarchy – a society with no laws at all. By his logic, we shouldn’t have laws against stealing because criminals are going to steal anyway. We shouldn’t have laws against drug use because criminals will sell and use drugs anyway. We shouldn’t have laws regulating any behavior because criminals are going to ignore the law.

It is certainly true that we won’t completely eliminate gun violence through legislation. But does it make sense to argue that we shouldn’t save any lives just because we can’t save them all? The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world, according to the American Bar Association. That should tell us that it is possible to lower the death rate from guns unless we value a “wild west” culture of violence more than the lives of innocent children.

The recent Forum article on Australia provides good evidence for the positive results of gun legislation. The 1996 massacre of 35 people by a gunman prompted the Australian government to “enact sweeping gun-control measures.” The statistics show that the program was a huge success. In the decade following passage of the laws, gun homicides dropped 59 percent, gun suicides dropped 65 percent and robberies involving guns dropped significantly. In the decade prior to the new laws, there were 11 mass shootings; in the decade following the new laws, there were none.

Americans have been taught to greatly fear terrorism to the point that one unsuccessful attempt to ignite a shoe bomb resulted in all of us having to remove our shoes at airports. Yet we continue to take no action when thousands of innocent people are gunned down and killed each year and thousands more use guns to commit suicide. Where is the logic in that?