February 23, 2013

Common-sense gun-motor vehicle comparisons

Letter to the Editor

Here are three cheers for good sense, and a comparison.

* "Guns don't kill, people do." Say "motor vehicles" instead of guns, and it's just as true. Like guns, cars are both useful and deadly. A Bloomberg graph says they killed 35,000 people last year, while guns killed only 32,000. (The car-death numbers are falling, but the gun deaths aren't.) Cars are a necessity for most people and guns are not, but buying and driving and selling cars are all matters of public record. Sure, they're all sources of tax revenue, but in case of an accident or a crime, they identify the owner. The same is not true for guns.

* "Keep guns out of the wrong hands." It's illegal to falsify records for cars (sale, title, registration), but sale and ownership records for guns are sketchy or not kept at all. Every state keeps motor vehicle records because they help identify persons who in one way or another don't qualify for using a car. The same is not true for guns.

* "Enforce the laws we have." If the laws covering guns were enforced as uniformly as the motor vehicle laws, and if the loopholes were closed that let 40 percent of gun sales go unrecorded, the deluge of weapons in our country would come down to responsible numbers. The title of "law-abiding citizen" would mean something at last, if there were uniform laws where guns are concerned.

The USA leads the world by far in privately owned weapons. If we managed firearms the way we do motor vehicles, we could save thousands of lives and rid our country of that sorry distinction.

Charles Ferguson, East Vassalboro

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