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Gun laws should focus on the person who pulls the trigger

Letter writer Becky Wagner, the executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth, makes an emotional plea for Maryland legislators to support series of bills that would ban assault weapons, close down gun dealers who violate the law, require everyone who owns firearms to report lost or stolen guns to authorities and deter straw purchasers from transferring guns to people who should not have them ("We can stop guns from killing our children," Feb. 12).

But there is no evidence that banning military-style semiautomatic rifles would have an effect on reducing murders among any age group. According to The FBI Uniform Crime Reports from 2004 through 2011, the statistics show 13 percent of murders in Maryland were committed with knives, 10 percent by other non-gun weapons, 4.5 percent by hands or feet — and less than 1 percent by rifles.

If the current laws regulating gun dealers are not aggressively enforced now, why would a new law be any better? Rather than more laws, the answer lies in better enforcement of the laws already on the books.

And Ms. Wagner's proposed legislation would not have any effect on guns that are stolen in the other 49 states and brought into Maryland.

There are better ways to reduce the gun violence, such as mandatory jail time for gun crimes and passing tougher mental health reporting requirements.

I was appalled that a Maryland judge recently sentenced a man to a year and one day in jail for killing his half brother with a gun. Does anyone think that a one-year sentence will deter further gun violence by the shooter or anyone else? Maybe life without parole would do it.

Connecticut is considering a law that would require psychiatrists to report to authorities patients who exhibit behaviors that may be harmful to themselves or others. Since the current guns laws in Connecticut, which are stricter than Maryland's, did nothing to prevent the Sandy Hook tragedy, lawmakers there are finally focusing on the person who pulls the trigger.

Maryland should follow Connecticut's lead, without having to experience a Sandy Hook type tragedy first.

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

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