To the Editor:
John K. Bergen [“Let’s Agree on Common Sense,” The Gazette, Jan. 14] is an ineffective advocate for the gun control organization he represents. Why? Because he believes that the way to win a debate is to (1) disparage his opponent and (2) change the name of the issue as if that changes the issue.
In the first sentence of his letter in last week's Gazette, he condescendingly intimates that he needs to explain "a few things" to assist Frank Medico in understanding the debate concerning guns. Mr. Medico does not need a primer from anyone. Apparently, Mr. Bergen does not realize that Frank Medico has been a pillar of the Mount Vernon civic community for well over four decades including being one of the founders of the Mount Vernon Council of Civic Associations (MVCCA) and representing Mount Vernon in the Virginia House of Delegates for four terms. Insulting Frank Medico does nothing to further an argument.
In his letter to the Gazette of Jan. 7, Mr. Medico used the term "common sense gun control." This offended Mr. Bergen who sought to correct Mr. Medico, stating in his letter that the "correct term is 'common sense gun legislation.'" Changing the name doesn't change the issue.
What Mr. Bergen fails to recognize, or actually knows but doesn't want to admit, is that criminals who want to obtain guns don't care what laws are passed to control and limit gun sales. Such laws only limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain guns.
The University of Chicago Crime Lab conducted a study, reported in October 2015, questioning inmates in the Cook County Jail in Chicago to determine where those inmates obtained guns. They found that criminals do not purchase guns in gun stores or at gun shows. They purchase them from personal connections. Criminals prefer to obtain guns in undetectable ways on the street. The Crime Lab co-director Harold Pollack said that inmates know they run the risk of being detected by the police but "were less concerned about getting caught by the cops than being put in the position of not having a gun to defend themselves and then getting shot." The study also found that the vast majority of gun-toting criminals use handguns as opposed to so-called assault weapons and that they typically get rid of a gun after a year to avoid being caught with a gun that might link them to a crime they or someone else committed. The study report can be accessed at this link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743515001486.
No rational person would oppose efforts to stop mentally challenged individuals or career criminals from obtaining firearms. At the same time, we already have plenty of laws on the books to protect the public from gun crime. Let's strictly enforce those laws before eroding our Second Amendment rights by adding additional layers of regulation on top of the layers already there which are not being enforced.
H. Jay Spiegel