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Letter: Keeping Our Children Safe

To the Editor:

There was some relevant commentary missing from a recent “Remembering Sandy Hook” community forum.

Five speakers advocated “common sense gun-control” measures, meaning a ban on so-called “assault” rifles and limits on magazine size. FBI data show all murders by rifle — any type of rifle — averaged 4.11 percent of gun murders and 2.78 percent of all murders from 2005 to 2011. Limiting those weapons would have minimal, if any, impact on violent crime. The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 30, (No. 2, Spring 2007) did an extensive review of data from multiple sources and of multiple countries. It concluded that gun-control laws had no effect on violence or gun violence, nor did more or fewer guns mean more or less gun crime.

Changing social paradigms was mentioned, similar to how drunken driving was stigmatized, to reduce violence. While I don’t know anyone who doesn’t view violent self-defense as an absolute last resort, perpetrators of mass murder usually are social outcasts, not influenced by those norms, and often act contrary to them.

Access to mental health care was also considered as a preventative measure, but I have seen no evidence that such care was not available to the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Tucson, Aurora or Sandy Hook murderers. Some of them were under psychiatric care. The ones who weren’t would have had it available to them.

A school principal at the forum asked that schools not be turned into “armed camps,” conjuring images of soldiers in full combat gear patrolling the halls. As a former teacher, I can say that some teachers, like me, would decide to get a firearm, get training and carry a concealed weapon. Those firearms would not be visible, being safely carried beneath normal garments. If one or more teachers had been able to engage immediately, a criminal would at least be delayed, maybe even stopped, until or before the police arrived.

Other measures already having failed, this one should be considered for the safety of our children.

Joe Hensel

Lebanon