Commentary: Gun control is not the answer to stopping gun violence

Dear Governor Carney and legislators,

I am writing you today to discuss the current administration’s efforts to deal with gun violence and explain why I am sure that we are way off-track in our efforts. I will deal strictly in facts. It is my hope that you all will see that there is a better, reasonable, and factual way to deal with gun violence in Delaware.

First, I want to say that I fully support reducing gun violence in Delaware, but trying to apply more laws, laws which almost surely violate our constitutional rights is NOT the answer. Here are 8 facts about gun violence.

  1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
  2. The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
  3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
  4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
  5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
  7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
  8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

Beyond these facts, criminals and mentally ill people DO NOT follow the law! They could care less if you write and pass 1,000 laws on gun control. Criminals only respect one thing — severe punishment for their actions! Delaware needs to enforce the criminal laws we already have or maybe even bolster those laws to make the penalty for committing a gun-related crime have DOUBLE the penalty. Did you know that 71% of all gun charges in Delaware are pled away BEFORE trial??

71! That is how you work to stop gun violence! I would fully support any law that made it impossible to plead away a gun crime and make the penalties much stiffer, if not double.

I understand the mentality of those that say “We must do something.” I also understand that some of the legislators have no real-world experience with firearms. Even our Attorney General has no real grasp on the difference between constitutional rights and privileges, as she compared curbing gun ownership to driving laws.

We do need to do something, but that something is NOT gun control. Gun control only restricts those who follow the law from protecting themselves and their families.

We, as a state, need to be much much tougher on criminals that commit crimes with guns. We need to make examples of them so that other criminals will think twice before committing a gun crime in Delaware. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” That needs to be Delaware’s philosophy in dealing with criminals, especially those that commit gun crimes.

We, as a state, also need to do a better job of identifying and treating those that are mentally ill and violent. There are children in our schools today that are violent and mentally ill. They should not be there … no excuses! They should not be there. There are adults that are violent and mentally ill. They need to be treated, yet it is nearly impossible to forcibly commit them for any real amount of time to assess them and treat them.

In conclusion, I ask that all of you please shift your focus from proposing and supporting “feel-good” gun bills which go against the constitutional rights of your law-abiding constituents. Instead, start making laws that are tougher on criminals that commit gun violence and laws that protect us from violent mentally ill children and adults.

Thank you for your consideration and for your service. I know that each of you is doing what you feel is right for Delaware. It is my hope that I have opened your eyes to where our real problems exist and ways to fix them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rob Burton is a resident of Rehoboth Beach

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