LETTER: Rational gun debate is way past due

To the editor:

I would sleep easier if a Robert Lee was at the point of every U.S. gun purchase. He is a firearms professional who, I’m convinced, does not want guns in the hands of lunatics nor others who would misuse them. Unfortunately, there are too few of him; with more than 300 million firearms floating around the U.S., too many are reaching the wrong folks.

Mr. Lee and I often part about gun politics. Indeed, his Oct. 14 piece featured several old “saws” of the far right, usually intended to inject emotion into a gun debate. Just consider. You can bet the police would rather confront the baseball bats of Mr. Lee’s description than guns with high-capacity magazines that should not be available to private citizens.

Mr. Lee expresses offense at discussing guns in the immediate aftermath of gun violence. He need not worry. As the gun lobby does not ever want gun legislation discussed, federal funding for scientific gun-violence research has been effectively frozen since 1996, thanks to them. Just ask the folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I should hope Mr. Lee doesn’t actually believe any lefty notions of “taking all the guns from the people.” Even mainstream liberals chuckle that advocates of total gun bans in the U.S. are, mostly, the sort of folks who drool and bay at the moon in their spare time.

Having branded and neutered enough Congress members, the gun lobby — mainly the NRA — has stymied sane gun legislation for a long time to come. Even those scary fundraising letters, warning of liberal gun haters like Hillary Clinton coming for your guns, are a joke.

The NRA’s only “problem” now seems to be that long-pending legislation to ease restrictions on ownership of silencers. Those darned, pesky mass shootings keep interfering with a final vote. (Imagine the Las Vegas shooter with that equipment.) Maybe pressure by hunters seeking hearing relief through their Obamacare will win the day.

It is sobering that the numbers of Americans killed by guns in our country, just since 1968, and U.S. service members killed in all wars since the Revolution are approximately the same. Addressing the issue rationally and effectively is long past due.

Douglas Smith