In his Rimersburg Rules column in the Oct. 10-12 edition of The L-V, Joe Lewis writes that “Gun control laws won’t prevent another Las Vegas massacre because gun control doesn’t work.” My experience with reading Lewis’ column is that he seems confused by complex and nuanced issues. Let me try to help him.

Lewis’ argument could be compared to traffic laws that set speed limits. Lewis might argue that there should be no such laws or limits, as thousands of motorists and passengers are killed each year due to speeding. Speeders will be speeders, law or no law. Well, that’s probably true. However, there are specific situations where speed limits (probably equivalent to gun control laws in his mind) seem prudent: densely populated residential and business areas, schools zones, highway construction sites, etc. So, to follow Lewis’ logic, such as it is (or isn’t), speed limits don’t work, so there should be none.

Suppose I concede his argument that “gun control doesn’t work.” He cites suicides as the cause of two thirds of gun deaths in the U.S. each year. Yes, and most of those are via handguns and a few shotguns and rifles. A semi-automatic weapon with a bump stock or a high capacity magazine would be “overkill” in such instances. Suicides by firearms rarely need multiple rounds to be successful.

Not to make light of such tragedies, but suicides are not the issue that Lewis claims to address — preventing another Las Vegas-type massacre was the issue he raised. Preventing those mass shootings is the issue — and banning bump stocks and high-capacity magazines is a surgically precise approach to one narrow problem — kind of like setting a 25 mph speed limit in a school zone, not on every mile of highway in the nation.

Likewise, deaths of young men aged 15-34. These deaths are often gang- or drug-related. They generally involve one-on-one shootings. These shootings seldom, if ever, involve weapons with a bump stock or a high-capacity magazine. They generally involve easily concealed handguns — and these are not the weapons that are used in Las Vegas-style mass killings. I’m not proposing banning handguns — just bump stocks and high-capacity magazines that cause mass killings like in Las Vegas. Lewis seems deliberately obtuse to the nuanced differences.

For Lewis to talk about “gun control” as something that would not prevent another Las Vegas is to deliberately muddy the water and derail the conversation into vague generalities. The discussion needs to be highly targeted and to address the very specific and narrow features of firearm accessories (not firearms themselves) that allow mass shootings and that are irrelevant to a discussion of suicide and shootings related to gang violence and drug deals gone bad.

I write this and approach this issue as someone who owns a rifle, got his first rifle for Christmas at age nine, grew up hunting and previously owned a shotgun and a handgun, and who served in the Army and who is experienced in the handling and use of guns and weapons. There is a difference — Army veterans of my generation know the Army mantra of the difference between a weapon and a gun.


Falls Church, Va.

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