To The Daily Sun,
I noticed Judith Ackerson's letter of Jan. 8 stating her contention that the U.S. Congress must enhance President Obama's recent executive order regarding federal firearms laws. A thorough, careful analysis of the president's order shows no real change in existing federal laws governing ownership, use, or misuse of firearms. As presidential executive orders merely instruct federal agencies on how to execute laws passed by Congress, it will be up to the legislative branch to change present law. Whether this will happen anytime soon is problematic.
I really do understand Ms. Ackerson's frustration that "we are under attack by gun laws that are antiquated and unable to protect law-abiding people," but several of her positions are not fully substantiated:
1. Her contention that the National Institute of Health was blocked by the NRA from publishing gun death statistics is probably in reference to the 2012 federal Appropriations Act stating that "none of the funds . . . may be used . . . to advocate or promote gun control." In the 1990s, officials of the NIH's Center for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress that they would conduct research to prove that firearms were a "public health menace" — hardly an unbiased scientific approach to the problem. The National Rifle Association did protest this bias and in 1997 Congress voted not to fund such "research." This situation has continued to the present day. (American Psychological Association).
2. Her position that guns equate to motor vehicles confuses the state-granted permission (her word) to use private instruments (vehicles) on public property with the federally-sanctioned right of all citizens to use privately-owned instruments (arms) to protect their private persons and property (U.S. Constitution), and, when required, to protect their fellow citizens as well. (Title 10 USC Section 311)
3. She states that the "gun lobby" is concerned that registration of guns would lead to confiscation. I would remind her that in 1995 Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) stated that "If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate — for an outright ban, picking up all of them — I would have done it "(YouTube). Senator Feinstein is still in office. Twenty years later, in October 2015, at Keene, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated that "it would be worth considering" gun confiscation on the Australian model (US News&World Report).
4. Ms. Ackerson states that "nearly 90 percent of people . . . want more gun regulations." That number apparently comes from polls taken in 2013/2014. After two days of plowing through opinionated blogs, self-serving polls and junk science "research," the closest I could come to that "fact" in 2015 was a Johns Hopkins/Bloomberg study stating that a majority (67 to 76 percent) of people surveyed support "laws to hold individuals accountable if they put guns into the wrong hands" (Daniel Webster, ScD MPH, Director Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research). I side with this majority also.
Again, I understand Judith's frustrations that nothing substantial is being done, on any level, to curb the misuse of firearms in the 21st Century United States. I feel the same way myself. Perhaps she and I could someday meet and further discuss this sorry situation. I'll buy the first round.