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Letter: Make It Tougher for Folks to Get Guns

To the Editor:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is right: Easy access to guns remains the key agent in school shootings, despite other claims (“Shootings Steady Despite Security,” front page, Feb. 3). When you’ve hugged more than four-dozen grieving parents at their children’s funerals, as Duncan when he served as superintendent of Chicago’s public schools, that lethal fact leaves a wound in your soul. Duncan knows this. And it’s how I came to know him when years ago we both served on the board of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. I joined the ICHV after an armed rampage at my children’s school, and only blind luck spared my daughters. Incidentally, the shooter — a disturbed woman — was under the care of a psychiatrist, so mental health treatments won’t stop these tragedies with guns.

You wonder after Newtown, Conn., and the ongoing mayhem what it takes to finally bolster background checks. Most Americans and gun owners support this, plus states that vet all gun buyers enjoy these lifesaving benefits: a 38 percent drop in women killed with a gun by an intimate partner, according to the U.S. Department of Justice; a 49 percent decline in firearm suicide rate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention; a 48 percent dip in gun trafficking (Journal of Urban Health, 2009); and a 39 percent decrease in police officers shot to death with handguns (FBI).

Let’s do the smart thing: Make it tougher for the wrong folks to get guns. The status quo isn’t’ working.

Bob Williamson

Board Member, GunSenseVT

South Woodstock