We asked readers last week how they felt about a proposed law sponsored by State Rep. Angel Cruz (D., Phila.) that would require gun owners to register their guns and pay a $10 annual fee.
On the other side of the issue, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) backs a series of proposals that would make it easier for people who can prove they're in "imminent danger" to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He would also eliminate a gun-sales database maintained by the state police.
Registering guns is not enough. What good would it have done for the Virginia Tech shooter to have registered his guns?
We need to study the gun control laws in the United Kingdom and Europe where gun related crimes are a fraction of what they are here. In the UK there were 28 gun-related homicides last year - 28 in the whole country as opposed to more than 400 in Philadelphia alone.
We have lost our way in this country. We allow a gun lobby to control our gun laws and thereby permit tragedies such as the one at Virginia Tech or the ones happening every day on the streets of our cities to occur.
Enforce the laws
There are over 20,000 gun laws on the books in this country and criminals, being what they are, ignore all of them.
There have been studies that have shown that guns, in the hands of private law-abiding citizens, are responsible for thwarting an estimated 2 million crimes a year, most without ever firing their weapons.
Other studies have shown that individuals with concealed-carry gun permits commit fewer crimes than the typical citizen. Countries such as England and Australia, which have banned their citizens from owning guns, except for some very restricted use, have shown an increase in crime, as much as 40 percent.
Criminals know they can walk into a home and the people are virtually defenseless.
I believe cases like the one at Virginia Tech are almost impossible to defend against. That individual gave indications of possible dangerous behavior and it was not acted upon by the proper authorities.
Ever after the first two murders the school was, in its response, wanting. The regular police weren't even on site to help with the investigation.
The registering of guns and the $10 annual fee will be ignored by criminals, so what will it accomplish, except to harass law-abiding citizens? One area we could concentrate on would be to spotlight gun dealers who knowingly allow straw purchases of weapons.
I'm sure, through the tracing of weapons used in crimes, that a pattern would develop pinpointing those guilty dealers.
Another obvious but ignored course of action would be to enforce the laws we already have. There is a federal law on the books that states if a felony is committed with a gun there is an automatic five-year jail term. The law is virtually ignored. It has been shown that when there is strict enforcement of guns laws, crime decreases.
The real answer is not gun control but criminal control. We can look as far away as Australia after gun control legislation was passed; homicides rose over 6 percent and armed robberies by 44 percent.
Washington, D.C., has had gun control for years and its gun and crime statistics are some of the highest in the nation.
Let's make guns available to anyone of legal age who passes the standard background check and a practical certified safe gun handling course.
Let's pass iron-clad legislation that incarcerates a criminal convicted in a gun related crime for a long time.
Here's a final thought for everyone. If a criminal breaks into your home with the intent to harm you and your family would you rather have a telephone in your hand to call the police or a gun to defend your family's lives? I think you know my answer.
As a mother, an American and a human being I am baffled by the stand of State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler).
First of all, if you can prove that you are in imminent danger you can get an immediate permit to carry a concealed weapon? This will surely only serve to exacerbate the huge problems in Philadelphia as well as allow someone like the Virginia Tech student to fulfill his dreams of mass murder all the more quickly.
Secondly, eliminate the gun-sales database? Am I dreaming?
I call upon the mothers of this state and the nation to stand up for our children's right to grow up. Try as I might, I am unable to come up with any situation in which an automatic handgun is used for any purpose other than to kill human beings, so, why are we allowing the automatic weapons ban to expire (two years ago)? This is a national disgrace.
Surely the mothers of this country hold more power than the NRA - it is past time to use that power and at least try to ensure the safety of our children in school. I will certainly be watching closely to ascertain my state representative's position on this issue and holding him accountable to his constituents for that position.
Andrea Nevin Lynch
Contrary to the apoplexy demonstrated by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), no one wants to take shotguns and deer rifles away from hunters or handguns from responsible gun owners.
However, what Metcalfe ignores is that the majority of big-city mayors, police chiefs throughout the nation, and other law enforcement officials want "Saturday-night specials," 15-shot pistol magazines, and other weapons designed for murder, not for hunting, off the streets. But Metcalfe, playing to the NRA by writing a hysterical letter to newspapers and organizing a demonstration in Harrisburg against those who argue for safe and reasonable limits on who can own a gun, and for what purpose, argues for unlimited gun purchases by anyone anytime.
Don't we elect representatives to be judicious, reasonable, responsible and to find common ground in civil discourse? Fanatics are a dime a dozen.
What we need in government is more politicians who exhibit wisdom and not ideology. They will get my vote, and I am a gun owner.
S. Reid Warren III