Gun laws save lives

Contrary to the assertions in Doyle McManus' op-ed ("People, not politicians, killed gun control," July 27), the national gun laws enacted in the 1990s did help reduce gun violence, and most Americans, including gun owners, support key new laws such as universal background checks for gun purchases.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law a measure that banned assault weapons (like the AK-47 used by the Colorado mass murderer) and gun magazines that could shoot more than 10 bullets at one time (the Colorado shooter used a 100-round magazine). A study conducted by the Brady Campaign comparing the five years before this law took effect and the 10 years afterward found a 66 percent drop in the number of assault weapons used in crime and estimated that there were over 60,000 fewer assault weapons sold than would have been sold without the law since the ban took effect. Sadly, in 2004 whileGeorge W. Bush was president, this life-saving law was allowed to expire. As a result, killers like the Colorado shooter could go into any gun store and buy assault weapons and magazines that can shoot 100 bullets without reloading.

Similarly, the Brady Law enacted in 1993 ,which required a background check before anyone could buy a handgun in a gun store, has resulted in millions of denials of handguns to convicted criminals and others whom we all agree should not have guns. It is plain that this must have helped to reduce gun violence in the 1990s and 2000s.

Beyond a doubt, gun laws save lives.

The American people strongly support building on these past successes. According to a poll recently released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 82 percent of gun owners, including 74 percent of NRA members, support requiring a background check on all handgun purchases, including gun shows where many criminals get the guns they cannot get at gun shops thanks to the Brady Law. And many polls have shown strong public support for reinstating the ban on high capacity gun magazines and assault weapons to prevent future tragedies like the one at the Aurora theater.

President Barack Obama was correct recently to say that assault weapons belong in the military not on our streets and that a universal background check makes sense. Now, he and Congress must move quickly to enact laws that would make these life-saving policies a reality.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is former executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.

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