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It’s time ‘pro-life’ meant gun control



Published: Thu, March 7, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Thomas P. MELADY

The Hartford Courant

Politicians usually talk about being pro-life when it comes to opposing abortion. As a Catholic who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under President George H.W. Bush, I share a deep commitment to protecting the sanctity of life in the womb. But what about our children, teachers and neighbors lost to the epidemic of gun violence?

These innocent victims can no longer speak. Those of us proud to call ourselves pro-life must raise our voices on their behalf and demand that powerful lobbying groups stop standing in the way of sensible gun control measures that can save lives.

I’m a native of Connecticut. The Newtown tragedy hit close to home for me. I have family members whose children attended Sandy Hook Elementary in the years before the horrific shootings three months ago. The image of tiny caskets carried into churches broke our hearts. It must also motivate us to act.

Along with another retired U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, I recently joined more than 60 prominent Catholic theologians, priests and sisters who are challenging pro-life elected officials to show more political courage when it comes to confronting gun violence. In particular, we urged our fellow Catholics in Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — who earn top ratings from the National Rifle Association to put the common good before powerful special interests.

‘Pro-life position’

The religious community is mobilized to make an impact on this debate. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently said that the church’s advocacy on behalf of gun control is “a pro-life position.” The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, complimented U.S. religious leaders and the Obama administration for advancing sensible gun restrictions. Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence — a campaign that includes Christians, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs — has brought together religious leaders from across the country to meet with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House.

Let’s drop the false choices. We can honor the Second Amendment and also take reasonable steps to make our communities safer. No hunter or responsible gun owner needs an assault weapon designed to inflict maximum carnage on the battlefield.

The bipartisan task force on gun violence in the General Assembly should recommend a comprehensive package that includes universal background checks, an expanded ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles and better mental health services. The task force would be wise to pay attention to new research that demonstrates the effectiveness of universal background check legislation.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has studied the consequences of Missouri repealing a 2007 “permit-to-purchase” law. The law required a background check as well as a brief sheriff’s review before all gun sales and closed loopholes of private sales. Repeal of the law meant guns could be sold privately in the state without a background check. The Hopkins researchers found that overturning the law resulted in a 25 percent jump in Missouri’s homicide rate at a time when gun violence was declining nationally and regionally.

Moral case

Although a single law or set of regulations can’t prevent every tragedy, there is no excuse for not taking action. The moral case is clear. The question is can our elected officials summon the political courage to defy the gun lobby and protect our communities?

Thomas P. Melady is a retired U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Uganda and Burundi. He is president emeritus of Sacred Heart University. He wrote this for The Hartford Courant. Distributed by MCT Information Services,

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Comments

1Photoman(989 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Regarding the Missouri stats-if, indeed, there was a 25% increase in the homicide rate were these deaths homicides by gun? I would also like to know how many were caused by registered gun owners.The current attitude is that taking guns from legitimate owners will control crime (it will not) but, in reality, legitimate owners and other citizens will become unarmed and defenseless against government and thugs. Gun control is a big step toward total control of the populace.

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2ytownsteelman(626 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

The only "false choice" is believing that banning semi automatic weapons is going to make a difference. There is not an epidemic of gun crimes in the US and not even an epidemic of mass shootings. Statistics show that those incidents are very rare indeed.

I do not trust you Mr. Melady because you do not fully understand this issue from both sides.

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3Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Lets identify who exactly is responsible for the majority of that violence first.

The government acknowledges in USDOJ National Gang Threat Assessment 2011, see pg 14, chart #8 for that massive number of violent crimes committed in the US each year committed by gang members.

http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/pub...

For several decades, studies have been conducted on crime and causalities by various bodies including major universities, criminologists and even the U.S. Department of Justice. These studies have found that approximately 80% of all crime is committed by 20% of all criminals. Some of the studies have provided slightly different numbers but all of them have found that a small group of criminals commit a vastly disproportionate number of crimes than their peers.(Wolfgang et al ., 1972; Petersilia et al ., 1978; Williams, 1979; Chaiken and Chaiken, 1982; Greenwood with Abrahamse, 1982, and Martin and Sherman,1986).

2.7 mil prisoners

1.4 mil active gang members

2.5-3.5 mil active criminals

1 mil plus open felony warrants

Hence add in the career criminals.

CDC -Suicidal people speak for them-selves as suicide is a felony.

Shall we review police firearm discharge reports in Chicago and NYC where between 76-80% of those involved in shootings, both shooter and injured were both involved in criminal activity at the time of the incident.

www.popcenter.org/problems/drive_by_s...,
www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/p...,
www.nyclu.org/files/nypd_firearms_rep...

Yeah, review of all the govt. data above shows over 92% of all killings by illegal use of a firearm are committed by career criminals, gang members, suiciders & crazies w approximately 50% of the remainder due to domestic violence incidents. A sane person would normally address the largest problem first don’t you agree?

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4Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Lets continue this review by acknowledging how many of the existing gun control laws actually apply to the bad guys.

http://supreme.justia.com/us/390/85/

Haynes vs. U.S. 390 U.S. 85 1968 where the US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Haynes that any law requiring a felon to self incriminate themselves and violate their 5th amendment rights was not enforceable as a charge for prosecution.

Hence criminals don't have to follow 85% of the existing 22,417 gun control laws that do so, e.g. your stolen weapons, registrations, etc....

Would you care to suggest that the 5th amendment be repealed, no, don’t think you would!

Then we should review how well those laws are enforced anyway.

Like the BATF for refusing to prosecute more than 1% of the 1.83 mil felons, others, and crazies rejected by the background check since 1994.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/... USDOJ Background Check & Firearm Transfer report 2008

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013...

In 2010 alone out of 76,000 felons who were caught attempting to buy from a licensed source, only 44 were prosecuted, a .00059% rate, that’s less than 1/10th of a percent to you math illiterates!
Is the BATF that incompetent, not really, see the procedure for a rejection is to verify it, and when that occurs, one see’s that between 94.2% to 99.8% weren’t actually felons, but a paperwork error, on the background check. Hence the massive majority of those rejected, weren’t felons, and legally able to buy a firearm, such are the annoying details and facts you antis cant refute.

Oh and geez, who was that prosecuting attorney of BATF agent that stated they didnt have time to prosecute a paperwork felony, as attempting to buy a firearm if you are one of those 10 categories of people who by due process have lost their 2A right, is indeed a felony.

We see that Harris & Keibold (Columbine) & Lanza (SandyHook) were rejected by the background check, yet it wasn't important to follow up on them. Care to explain that logic to the families of the 41 killed and 26 they injured?

Like the BATF for refusing to catch ANY of those lying on their 4473 forms (Cho, Loughner & Holmes were crazy, they lied) or using fake identifications.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/0... General Accounting Office study

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5Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Like the BATF for refusing to do anything about the 95.52% of felons who don’t even attempt to buy from a licensed source to begin with.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty... DOJ Firearms use by Offenders Nov 2001

Like the BATF for refusing to allow civilians access to use the NICS background check for private sales as only licensed dealers are allowed.

Lets not forget that our politicians play a significant role in enabling the crazies to go free. As a result of VA Tech, Pub. L. 110-180 NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 was enacted.

http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PU...

The real question and failure, is what have the states actually funded or resourced for this mental health reporting to the NICS?

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics...

Going to the actual NICS website, we see as of Dec 2012, there are only 1.83 mil records of people who by due process have lost their 2A rights for being severely mentally ill.

You do realize in the 1970's how the ACLU mainstreamed the mentally ill into society, and people didn't want the half way houses for them in their neighborhoods, and politicians continually cut said funding, does anyone wonder where they went, we dont!
Yet mental health experts agree that on avg. over 23.15 mil US adults (50% of current 2.7 mil prisoners) are severely mentally ill.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us...
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics...

Don’t forget the NCIC FBI database showing over 1.043 mil open felony warrants in the US today. Uh where’s your data showing that 50% of these 1 mil people wanted aren’t severely mentally ill eh?

So is that the 80 mil law abiding gun owners fault, BATF fault or the politicians fault, sucker question I know!

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6Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Per FBI UCR & CDC in 1991 24,700 murders, consistent % where firearms used is 67.8% =16,747 murders by illegal use of firearm, 15,383 suicides by firearms, 657 justifiable homicides, 1,463 accidental firearms deaths =34,250 deaths where firearms were used

2011 14,612 murders 67.7% used a firearm = 9,892, 591 justifiable homicides, 835 accidental deaths, 19,766 suicides = 31,084 deaths where a firearm was used.

Since 1991 to 2011, that is a reduction in…..


Totals / Rate


Violent Crime -37.04% / -49.04%

Murder -40.84% / -52.01%

Rape -21.73% / -36.59% 

Robbery -48.47% / -58.31%

Aggravated Assault -31.26% /-44.36%
Accidental deaths -41.9% / -52.14%

So explain again how since 1991 there has been a 42% increase in firearms in civilian hands there hasn’t been a 42% increase in violence or suicide?

1991 suicide rate 12.2 per 100k people, if increased by 42% = 17.3 per 100k people

2010 suicide rate 11.9 per 100k people, uh dude, that isnt an increase, its a decrease, and of course if one actually digs into the background information, they see that the baby boomers (born 1947 to 1964) all are reaching that age where suicides are more common, and with the massive increase in military personnel suicides, well, there are many variables the anti's refuse to acknowledge.

By the way, what is a country, with gun bans suicide rate vs the US? Australia has 1/100th of our firearms, so they should have 1/100th of our suicide rate, uh dude, their 2010 suicide rate is 11.14 per 100k people.

What about murders, lets compare that as well.

1996 Australia 1.7 murders per 100k people 2011 1.08 murders per 100k people a -36.5% reduction

1996 US 7.4 murders per 100k people 2011 4.7 murders per 100k people a -36.5% reduction.

How is it again, that a country with a 42% increase in civilian firearm ownership and 100 times more firearms in law abiding civilian hands than Australia, have the same reduction in murders as they did?

Now if one breaks it down into weapons used if you take and look at the normal trend, one see's Australia reduction in murder by illegal use of firearms only reduced -4.41% from 1996 to 2011, the US from 1996 to 2011 was reduced -26.5%.

But hey, dont let facts get in the way of your mystical fantasies eh Thomas!

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7Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh you want data, hey lets review the following.

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm FBI UCR Database

You know, the government database showing in 2008 that 1.38 mil violent crimes were reported and that of those 381,000 involved a firearm, 15% of the incidents were shots fired.

Firearm Use by Offenders, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2001

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pb....
http://www.data.gov/details/1526

USDOJ National Victimization Report 2008

You know, the government agency sub annual report showing in 2008 alone that 70% of all violent crimes committed each year were not reported.

Funny how we see Canada & England perform this same study and get the same results, go figure eh!

Oh wait, what’s this, annual firearm discharge reports that show the police only hit their targets 15% of the time, such a common trend.

http://www.virginiacops.org/Articles/Sho...
http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Aveni...
http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/p...
http://www.nyclu.org/files/nypd_firearms...

Uh just an fyi there were approximately 12,252 murders and 70,000 injuries by firearms in 2008.

So using the standard shooting percentages, and hit % provided by all that government data these antis cant refute, lets calculate and see how many people self defense has saved the US per year, and we will only concentrate on the law abiding to start with.

Even though the anti’s wont admit that even felons, who are citizens, have the right to defend themselves.

Self Defense saves lives

FBI UCR 2010

278 documented justifiable homicides and since there are oh 2.5 people per household per US Census, almost 6 injuries per death we will calculate from that point.

278 incidents + (6 x 278 = injured) = 15% of shots hit target /15 = 1% x 100 = # of shots fired = 12,973 incidents shots fired by law abiding citizens.

12,973/15 = 1% x 100 = total number of self defense incidents just of people not involved in a criminal activity =86,488 incidents.

Since 70% of all violent crimes are not reported, do you have any data that self defenses aren’t reported at the same rate, no you don’t, so……

86,488 / 30 = 1% X 100 = 288,293 total incidents of selfdefense in 2010

288,293 x 2.5 people per household = 720,723 people defended or defending themselves.

Now we know that of 381,000 violent crimes in 2008, there were 12,252 murders, and 70,000 injuries, and assuming the same rate of injuries = 3.2% deaths 18.4% injuries.

12,252/381,000 = 3.4% and 70,000/381,000 = 18.4%

288,293 x .032 = # of deaths saved 9,225

288,293 x .184 = # of injuries prevented 53,045

cont

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8Jarhead1982(7 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

So assuming emergency room care for each death and lost income of one year.

9,225 x $63,600 = $586,710,000

So assuming emergency room care for each injury and ongoing health care afterwards (ref Ludwig & Cooke 200 study for costs on $1 bil fantasy cost to taxpayers), but no data on how to add in lost wages (avg. age dependent to each incident), will leave that out for the moment = $50,000

54,045 x $50,000 = $2,652,250,000

$3,238,960,000 cost saved per year.

Need some independent verification, were you aware of this study? It's not done by a pro-gun think-tank, it's the CDC.

"Estimating intruder-related firearm retrievals in U.S. households, 1994."

The CDC estimated that "497,646 incidents occurred in which the intruder was seen and reportedly scared away by the firearm... "

And that is an annual number.

Almost 500k defensive uses of a gun in one year, only in homes. So you going to prove not one single violent crime is committed outside the home, lol!

Many defenses uses of guns are never reported because the defender simply shows the gun and the criminal ceases.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/95...

Geez, sad for the antis how in 19 years, no one has refuted the methodology, the sample size much less the data set of that NIJ study used as the basis for these facts.

Really sucks when your own anti gun pundits start putting up numbers you cant refute.

As you antis claim, if it saves just one life, it is justified, hence lawfully armed civilians is indeed PRO-LIFE!

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9Sosalty(1 comment)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

To save a life, get quality training and carry. Teach your kids to appreciate the 2nd amendment. Coach an archery team at school or help out your local shooting club. Thanks to all the armed citizens who have kept our free society a bit safer from human predators.

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