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National debate over guns is reminiscent of the one over slavery

Monday, January 14, 2013
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National debate over guns is reminiscent of the one over slavery

I’ve enjoyed the lively exchanges on the Gazette’s editorial page about gun ownership and laws. The numerous letters show how divisive an issue we now face.

Many writers seem to pick objects such as subway trains, cars, knives, and clubs to make arguments for and against gun laws. I’d like to suggest that rather than focusing on objects, we look at strongly emotional, divisive issues of our past. To me, the gun discussion has strong similarities to the arguments over slavery during the 19th century.

Every imaginable economic, religious, cultural and “scientific” argument was put forward by those who supported slavery. Slavery was a foundational part of our economy. In the 1850s, the value of slaves (they were “property”) far exceeded the combined nationwide assets of manufacturing, railroads and banking.

The overarching claim of slavery supporters was that slaves were non-persons, and therefore little more than farm animals. By extension, since it’s OK to kill an animal, it was OK to kill a slave.

As I understand it, today we have two basic world views that underlie our opposing views on gun laws: 1) A person with a gun has the right to kill another human who invades his space and threatens him/her; 2) An individual does not have a right to kill another. Claim No. 1, I believe, is similar to the 19th century view on slaves — that a slave owner had the right to choose life or death for the slave.

Our national discussion on slavery led to the Civil War. Let’s hope there are alternatives now. We can look at other countries for guidance.

England led the way on banning slavery in the Western World. We all now believe that was the right approach. England today has strict gun control laws, and vastly lower gun deaths than the United States. Can we learn from them? On what side of history will our grandchildren place us in 50 years?

Don Cooper

Amsterdam

Keeping guns out of bad guys’ hands is paramount

If you’re like me, then you are probably tired of hearing endless debates from pro- and anti-gun Americans.

Whether you are for or against the possession of firearms, it is evident that tighter restrictions need to be placed on guns, but also that it is our constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.”

There is no possible way that you can ever remove guns from America completely. With that being said, the only way to defend yourself from a person bearing arms is to also possess a weapon, and as the saying goes: Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

The way to reduce gun violence is not to restrict law-abiding citizens from possessing guns, but doing more to restrict those who [would] cause harm to humans from obtaining them.

I will end with this: Chicago is one of the country’s tightest gun controlled cities, yet the murder and violent crime rates are high above the national average.

John Pascarella

Rotterdam

Eliminate ceiling for Social Security tax

For 2013, the Social Security (FICA) tax will be applied on up to $113,700 of income, up from $110,100 in 2012.

The solution to solving the program’s funding problem is to apply the tax to all annual income, and not cut it off at a certain amount. The additional revenue to fund Social Security benefits now, and in the future, would be more than adequate and might even produce enough of a surplus to make a dent in the nation’s debt load.

Why all the tinkerings with age, cost-of-living adjustments, etc., when the solution is simple?

James E. Callahan

Ballston Spa

Make assault weapons accessible only to military

Strict regulations should be imposed, and enforced, on manufacturers producing assault weapons; they should be sold to the military only, with accountability for each weapon on the military’s part.

These weapons do not belong in civilians’ hands or at gun shows. The government should also beef up the security on what comes into this country.

Yes, it’s the person who pulls the trigger; and, yes, mental health plays a part. But if the assault weapon wasn’t available to begin with, you wouldn’t have these massive shootings.

I rest my case.

Liz Shutter

Colonie

Community coverage is what sets Gazette apart

I’ve been a subscriber to the Gazette for many years, and it’s almost entirely because of the local news section.

There are so many other sources where I can read news from the Associated Press that appear in the main section, but the strength of the Gazette lies in its local section, in my opinion.

I especially appreciate all the community events listed and featured. It’s great to be able to find so many interesting activities to choose from, all in one spot. I’ve been sending the Gazette information from two organizations in Galway, and both have had people attend events and meetings solely because they’ve seen the announcements in the Gazette.

Thanks so much for your continuing support of community organizations!

Evelyn Hanna

Galway

The writer does publicity for the Galway Library and Galway Preservation Society.

 
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comments

January 14, 2013
7:10 a.m.
muggy says...

Oh Liz. Please define the term "assault weapon." Would that weapon be the hammer used in over 300 murders last year? Or would that weapon be the 5 gallon pail that 50 children drowned in last year? How about the automobile?

Liz. Do you know that an assault weapon is defined by cosmetic changes to a rifle? The actual operation of the weapon is a semi-automatic. This means that a bullet is discharge with each press of the trigger, and another bullet is loaded into the chamber.

January 14, 2013
1:55 p.m.
SnowGrinch says...

Ask the families of the 26 people who were killed with an AR15 assault rifle at the Sandy Hook Elementary School if they want those weapons banned.
Ask the Newtown police chief Michael Kehoe, who yesterday said: “Ban assault weapons, restrict those magazines that so have so many bullets in them, shore up any loopholes in our criminal background checks.”
There is no need for assault weapons in our society.

January 14, 2013
10:32 p.m.
wmarincic says...

snowgrinch, a kneejerk reaction to a tragedy being used for the purpose of liberals to disarm it's citizens. If you have even half a brain you see that England that outright bans all guns has the highest number of violent crimes in a civilized country, 2034 per 100,000 people and 7 of the other top 10 are also anti gun countries, the U.S. is not even on the list. Look at Mexico and Chicago Illinois and see how outright gun bans stop the violence there.

January 15, 2013
8:23 a.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

It's fascinating the degree to which people throw around statistics without offering citations or context.

January 15, 2013
9:26 a.m.
wmarincic says...

You are welcome to research it like I did boston but here it is.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/l...

January 15, 2013
11:13 a.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

The blog post at the link below will explain some of the problems with the numbers you cited, including which offenses each nation reports as violent crimes. Also, the UK does not have an outright ban on all guns.

http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/201...

January 15, 2013
12:14 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Actually the UK does have have an outright ban on guns, even most Police don't carry guns which is why the violence is so high. You can also check a dozen or so other sites that will tell you the same about the UK and other gun banning countries.

January 15, 2013
1:04 p.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

Actually, the UK does NOT have an outright ban on all guns - only handguns. The London Metropolitan Police web site lists regulations and provides permit applications: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/firear....

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