Letter to the editor: Response to McClaughry on guns

Response to column on guns

The July 8 Banner published an opinion piece by John McClaughry opposing reasonable ideas for gun control. Mr. McClaughry is wrong in principle and wrong on the facts. The Banner owes it to its readers to publish an alternative point of view on this important issue.

Recently House Democrats called on House Leadership to bring to a vote some reasonable gun control measures. They did this because a majority of voters in this country, and indeed a majority of gun owners, are in favor of reasonable gun control measures. Contrary to what Mr. McClaughry alleges, none of the proposals would violate the Constitution. The Second Amendment of the Constitution is not absolute. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the Constitutionality of restrictions on gun ownership. That is the reason fully-automatic machine guns and sawed-off shotguns are prohibited. There is nothing in principle preventing the addition of other weapons (such as assault-type weapons) to the list.

Mr. McClaughry's second flawed argument is that the proposed gun laws can't work. In attempting to make his case, he cites the story of Australia, a country with a Wild West history and gun culture every bit as robust as ours. The Australian experience, however, clearly shows that gun controls do work. And in this country, our limited gun laws are already working and have been shown to help keep some guns out of the wrong hands. What we need now is to close the loopholes and for the law to apply to all gun purchases and transfers. Mr. McClaughry is afraid that such universal background checks would mean that some people would not be able to get weapons. That is exactly the point. There are people who should not have guns, and we should make sure they do not get them.

The balance of Mr. McClaughry's opinion piece devolves into standard right-wing nonsense imagining how an armed citizenry would defy new gun laws, how gun control would punish the innocent and lead to civil war. These ideas do not come from the hunters and sportsmen among us, but from the gun manufacturers, and their paid lobbyists the NRA, who make their money playing to the fears of the public.

We have in this country (and this state) a serious gun violence problem. Nearly 100 people die daily in the US as a result of guns. Perfect gun control will not end all violence, or even all gun violence, but as our leaders have pointed out: "We can do better". After pretending to debunk the various cases for gun control, I expected Mr. McClaughry to do the reasonable thing and explain exactly what he would do to reduce gun violence in the US. Instead he offers nothing. Apparently the gun violence situation in the US is just fine with Mr. McClaughry. Apparently he is OK with the situation where terrorists coming to the US can travel light because they know they can get all the guns they need right here.

Mr. McClaughry is identified as vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute, which advertises itself as nonpartisan and independent. If the Ethan Allen Institute sponsors Mr. McClaughry's clearly biased and partisan opinion, they should be ashamed. If not, Mr. McClaughry should have included a disclaimer in his opinion. As for me, I support all the reasonable gun control proposals now being discussed. I am a Vermont voter and these opinions are mine alone.

— Richard Poeton Bennington


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