Gun control proposals take proper aim

Regarding the seven-point plan to reduce gun violence proposed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others ("Scholars drafting new gun policy," Jan. 15), this is an issue in which I have vested interest.

Aggravated by such events as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, gun control is currently a hot topic in the United States. Personally, I believe that it is acceptable to own a gun strictly for hunting or protection, but this does not extend to large-scale assault weapons. Had a faculty or staff member at Sandy Hook Elementary possessed a firearm, the shooting might not have advanced as it did. Opponents of stricter gun control laws like to argue that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." While this may be true, guns greatly increase the feasibility of killing.

The Uniform Crime Reporting Program, or UCR, reported that 129,741 murders were reported in the U.S. between 2000 and 2008. The UCR defines murder as, "the willful killing of one human being by another." The UCR found that two-thirds of these murder victims were killed by a firearm of some type. Whereas firearms account for 66 percent of murders, the next most common weapon, knives or cutting instruments, only account for 13 percent. These statistics lead back to my point that guns make killing much easier as well as distant and impersonal. Unlike homicides involving knives, gun homicides require no physical investment in the subject, aside from pulling the trigger.

A study by the National Institute of Justice of U.S. Cities found a positive correlation between gun ownership levels and felony murder. Greater gun use does not appear to affect violence levels, but they allow a greater portion of that violence to turn deadly. For these reasons, I am all for gun buyback programs. A buyback program conducted by the Prince George's County Police and Laurel Police in Laurel collected 150 guns on one Saturday alone. Of course, this does not retire the issue of crime involving firearms, but it does make a difference.

One shortfall is that the people who are attracted to these programs are least likely to commit crimes to begin with. They also end up collecting more hunting rifles than automatic weapons. Additionally, I am a supporter of Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to limit gun violence. While buyback programs don't really get at the heart of the problem, the interventions mentioned in this article definitely will.

Sarah Murphy, Laurel