Although in favor of reasonable gun control measures, I fully support the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to legally keep and bear arms. However, I take issue with Del. Kathy Szeliga’s commentary that suggests that gun ownership is keeping Maryland safer (“Today’s gun buyer isn’t stereotype critics suggest,” Dec. 18). While there is some evidence that having a gun may reduce property loss, there is no good evidence that using a gun in self-defense reduces the likelihood of injury.
There is ample evidence, however, of the lethal role of firearms in suicides, which have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2018, 24,432 people in the U.S. (including 690 in Maryland) died by a firearm-related suicide representing 61% of all firearm-related deaths. It is also known that there is a strong association between the presence of a firearm in the home and an increased risk of suicide for the gun owner, their spouse and their children. This is a particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic with many people encountering mental health issues including depression related to social isolation and financial hardships.
On balance, it seems that the risk of self-inflicted injury by a handgun clearly outweighs the potential benefit of using a gun in self-defense. While Marylanders have the right and responsibility to provide for the safety of their family and themselves, there is little evidence that this is achieved by gun ownership.
Dr. Beryl Rosenstein, Pikesville
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