COL More guns, more shootings

Recent incidents raise questions about new state law

Two recent shooting incidents in our area help prove that a new state law making it easier to obtain a gun permit was a bad idea and should be repealed.

On July 15 a man who was target shooting with a .22-caliber rifle accidentally wounded a 13-year-old Dover boy in the abdomen. And July 19 a 32-year-old Rochester man accidentally shot himself in the leg during a handgun safety class at a local shooting range.

Fortunately, both victims survived. The man who shot himself suffered only a superficial wound, and the family of the injured boy has declined to release information about his medical condition.

We know we'll likely be pilloried by gun advocates for making any connection between the new legislation and target practice accidents. But we stand by the position that we have maintained since the legislation was first debated that the new law is likely to lead to an increase in accidental -- and intentional -- gun-related deaths and injuries. It's a simple formula. More guns equals more shootings.


If the number of firearms sold in this state skyrockets, as is expected, as a result of this new law, it only stands to reason that the public's exposure to the risk of shooting deaths or injuries will also increase.

This has already been proven in at least one study. The Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University determined in a study published in February 2002 that there is a direct link between the number of guns sold in a state and the number of firearm-related deaths involving children.

An article appearing in the March 8, 2002, issue of Focus, a publication of Harvard's School of Public Health, summarized the study:

"Children aged 5 to 14 living in one of the five high-gun states were twice as likely to commit suicide or to be murdered, three times as likely to die from firearm homicide, seven times as likely to die from firearm suicide and 16 times as likely to die from firearm-related accident. The study suggests the higher death rates are largely related to gun availability and are not due to differences in levels of poverty."

We agree with the National Rifle Association and other gun advocate groups that most firearm owners, especially hunters, use their guns safely and responsibly. But some don't. We're convinced that some citizens will acquire a permit and buy a handgun to carry in public -- not because they want to protect their safety but just because they can. And some will use their guns carelessly and irresponsibly.

We're more convinced than ever that the new, permissive legislation was a bad idea, and we hope lawmakers will repeal it, or at least overhaul it, when they convene again in January.

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