To The Herald-Whig:
In an attempt to solve the gun control problem, ideas have been offered but none appear viable. Should we concentrate on buyers, sellers and people activity, or, as I believe take a close look at the acquisition of guns.
Let's break down this problem into its two elements: Guns and people. First, two kinds of guns: Legal and illegal. With over a million guns already in circulation, they are harmless, by themselves. They are usually registered so in the event a gun is used in commission of a crime it can be traced to the owner. The NRA promotes safety and proper use of firearms. A weak point here is the federal law bars the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from keeping track of guns of first-time buyers and sellers except if a gun is used in a crime.
The so-called illegal guns are usually obtained from questionable sources such as out-of-town purchases, over the Internet, by mail, or the black market. These purchases usually are not recorded nor is the buyer or the seller recorded. In case of a crime the use of these firearms are difficult to trace for their origin.
Now we come to people. Nearly 99.95 percent of the one million existing guns are not a danger by themselves. The remaining one half of one percent of these guns are where the problems occur. Most often, people acquiring these firearms have a mental problem, or maybe a personality or persecution attitude, or are out to settle a grudge, or for any kooky reason. Here they go berserk resulting in devastation and even murder. Aurora, Alabama and Newtown are hideous examples of a kook with a gun. How are we going to prevent these things from happening? How can we predetermine who are and where are these sick people who need help?
I believe this problem requires an all-out public awareness program by individuals and backed by the support of the TV, the press, and helpful organizations for a family with mental illness problems. It's possible that family members, neighbors, or friends might notice a person having a drastic change in attitude, actions, or even temperament. This is where a red flag should pop up.
I've pinpointed a serious problem. I hope someone of authority will pick up this idea and act on it. If only one life is saved all efforts are justified.
James J. Haslem