Cumberland Times-News


January 22, 2013

Congress must deal with the issue of gun deaths

It may have taken the deaths of 27 people in Connecticut, but President Obama has finally stepped up with a plan for mitigating gun violence in this country. Not for ending it.

There is no sure solution to the horrendous number of gun deaths which take place annually in America.

There are gun control issues; mental health issues; the issue of the culture of violence which surrounds us in movies, TV, video games and music; a media culture which feeds the apparent American obsession with violence and glorification of the “shoot first, ask questions later” school of bravado.

There are no quick fixes and no sure answers to all these challenges. But every idea which might possibly go some way toward remedying gun deaths in this country, even in part, should be on the table.

And that is why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should bring the President’s plan to the Senate floor for debate and a vote as quickly as possible.

Yes, it should be followed up by a plan to correct our broken mental health system (which will require meticulous study and creativity) and some way of protecting our young people from exposure to too much “entertainment” violence without radically crushing the First Amendment.

But as a first step, the President is urging the Congress to take common sense measures to deal with the massive number of guns (300 million) in this country, and Congress, regardless of the outcry from gun lobbies, needs to give these measures a hearing and a chance.

The fact that we’ve been barred by gun lobbies from even discussing this issue in Congress is ludicrous.

Annually in America there are 30,000 gun homicides, suicides or accidents. At that rate, in the month since the Newtown shooting, an estimated 2,500 people have been killed by guns. No other industrialized nation even approaches America’s rate.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “European nations — even former eastern bloc countries — typically have rates well below 1 per 100,000, or far less than one-third the frequency seen in the U.S.

The pattern is similar in other advanced industrialized nations, such as Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand” — meaning we are beaten out only by such nations as Colombia, South Africa, Thailand and Nicaragua.

In Japan in 2006, only TWO people were killed with guns. The U.S. is responsible for over 80 percent of the gun deaths in the 23 richest nations combined.

The argument that guns (especially assault weapons?) are necessary for personal protection is also discredited by statistics.

A study published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2010 found that “a gun is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member or guest than in the death of an intruder.”

The New England Journal of Medicine stated in 1993 that “gun ownership creates nearly a threefold risk of a homicide in the owner’s household.”

Nancy Lanza thought she was protecting herself with guns, which were instead turned against her — an irony which should not be lost on us.

Are there other causes? Certainly. But this is one we can work on NOW. If these changes don’t help, we’ll be studying others in the meantime.

But making guns less easily available, banning high-capacity magazines and getting rid of assault weapons — which have no purpose but mass killing anyway — enforcing background checks on ALL gun sales, these are a first step.

Those of us who believe in tighter gun control deserve to be allowed to at least have the discussion — especially in Congress.

Ellen McDaniel-Weissler


Text Only
  • Life-saving law Life-saving law

    Not many pieces of legislation to come out of Annapolis can be described as a matter of life or death. But the CPR law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley is just that.
    Known as Brenna’s Law, the legislation requires that all Maryland high schoolers will be required to complete CPR training as part of the graduation requirement.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cat sanctuary could use help with veterinarian bill

    Dawn’s Cat Sanctuary, Fort Ashby, W.Va., recently rescued 11 cats and one kitten from a home in Keyser, W.Va.

    April 24, 2014

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • President and Obamacare: Who needs Congress?

    Being a fellow from a small town like Cumberland I don’t always really understand what’s going on in Washington. But I have watched a few houses being built over the years. I even helped some with one house, but my brother fired me from that work pretty quickly, mainly because it was his house being built.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sweet Success Business Forum this evening in Frostburg

    As a member of the Frostburg Business and Professional Association (FBPA), I am pleased to inform the community of the “Sweet Success” event sponsored by the city of Frostburg and our organization.

    April 22, 2014

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • You can help United Way reach its goal

    The United Way of Allegany County campaign for 2013-14 will end April 30 and to date has raised more than $430,000, which is over 86 percent of its goal. But there is still $70,000 to be raised in a very short time.

    April 21, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo