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December 19, 2012
Column #1,634
A Fresh Idea for Gun Control
By Mike McManus

On most issues I’m a conservative – but not gun control. As I reported in this column four years ago, I have a personal reason to favor tough gun laws.

My father had a pistol which he taught me to use. When I was 10, he showed me the gun’s handle contained a clip which held a number of bullets, and the safety lock, and how to fire it. He kept it in his handkerchief drawer.

One day he asked me to get him a handkerchief. Opening the drawer, I saw the pistol in a leather holster. Fascinated, I took it out, opened the gun’s clip and saw it held no bullets. I turned off the safety switch.

Then I put the muzzle in my mouth, but then thought, “No, that’s silly.” I turned the pistol to aim at Dad’s sock drawer and pulled the trigger.

BLAM the shot rang out! I had come that close to killing myself! I did not realize there could be a shell in the chamber when none were in the clip.

About two years later, my drunken father was arguing with my mother. Both were screaming, which I hated. Then Dad went to his bedroom and emerged with the pistol and started waving it at her.

Though he outweighed me 2-1, I rushed to wrestle the gun away. Then I got a ladder and hid the weapon high in the rafters of our garage.

Consequently, suicides and murders by guns in America are not simple statistics to me, but are chilling near realities of my youth. With these two incidents burned in my memory, I resolved that when I grew up, I would never keep a gun in my home.

Consider some shocking numbers. In 2010 there were 12,179 homicides with firearms in the U.S. In Japan, there were only 7, That’s right, just 7 murders by guns. In the United Kingdom, just 63 people died in firearm murders.

Vastly more Americans committed suicide with a gun than were murdered – 18,223. I shudder when I think how close I came to being one of those statistics.

Based on my personal experience, my major suggestion on how to reduce gun deaths is to urge those with guns to remove them from their homes. Had Nancy Lanza never bought those weapons, or gotten rid of them, she, her son, Adam, 20 first graders and 6 teachers would be alive today.

How much more risky are states with the highest gun ownership compared to states with the lowest gun ownership? About half of all households in Louisiana and Mississippi have guns in their homes compared to about a tenth of homes in Hawaii and Rhode Island. And the gun death rate is SIX times higher in those two southern states than in their counterparts!

More guns in more homes leads to more deaths. It is axiomatic.

I wrote the words above yesterday. Today I picked up The Washington Post which featured a front page picture of 1,100 firearms which had been turned into the Camden, N.J. Police. Why? The Sandy Hook murders frightened many people. And the state’s Attorney General offered to pay up to $250 for the weapons in a “buy back” program funded by forfeited money paid by felons. This initiative was suggested at a Antioch Baptist Church and the Higher Ground Church of God in Christ. The weapons will be melted down for sign posts!

Washington Post Columnist Matt Miller noted that similar programs in Oakland and San Francisco yielded 700 weapons at $200 each. A Los Angeles “Buy Back” program on Mother’s Day sparked 1,659 returned guns, paid with prepaid grocery cards for up to $200.

Miller also reported that two weeks after a horrific mass killing of 35 people in Australia in 1996, the nation passed a National Firearms Agreement which banned semi-automatic and automatic rifles and shotguns and created a compulsory buy-back program for those illegal weapons.

Result: the government purchased and destroyed 700,000 weapons, about one-fifth of Australia’s stock of firearms. In America, that would be like destroying 60 MILLION guns.

Second result: The number of homicides involving firearms fell by 59 percent! Suicides by guns plunged a stunning 74 percent.

If America launched a similar program, there would be 20,671 fewer deaths per year!

I propose that the U.S. Government ban the sales of semi-automatic weapons and offer to buy back ALL guns. The Feds could offer $100 per gun to match forfeited money paid by criminals to state and local governments.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the 28 Sandy Hook deaths led to 20,000 fewer deaths per year?

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