MWDN: Southborough Board of Health to look at gun safety

by susan on April 18, 2013

The Southborough Board of Health is taking on a new concern: gun safety. The board says they’re approaching the matter from a public health perspective, not a political one. Reports the Metrowest Daily News:

“Guns can be made safer,” he said, both by increasing awareness of better ways to secure them and by increasing societal awareness that firearms and mental illness are a bad combination.

Member Nancy Sacco said the state of mental health care now is “atrocious,” and (Chairman Louis Fazen III) said he plans to talk about signs friends should look for in evaluating someone’s competency to own a gun.

For instance, if someone is having a “rough patch,” he said, friends shouldn’t be shy about voicing concern.

“The friend has to be able to say, ‘You’ve got guns at home and you’re not doing well right now,'” he said.

Fazen will be delivering a presentation on firearm safety at the Southborough Library next week. You can read more about the board’s discussion in this article by the MWDN.

1 Al Hamilton April 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

In the curious contradiction that is Mass. we have fairly restrictive gun laws in this state but the state refuses to share mental health data with the Feds responsible for administering firearm background checks.

http://bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/01/28/massachusetts-among-worst-sharing-mental-health-data-for-gun-background-checks/WmvEKsnUWsQWxvvsXwLY5O/story.html

As a consequence, there is no effective background check in Mass that would prevent a person with serious mental health issues from acquiring a firearm.

Sharing the data would probably be a reason why someone might not seek help, and is a significant invasion of privacy so it is not without its issues.

Also, If you plan to take Dr. Fazens advice you should make sure you know what you are getting into before you start down that path. Unless you have the proper license taking a firearm in Mass, even one freely offered, could land you in jail and in any event is a grave responsibility if you do not know what you are doing. Consider, instead, buying a bunch of trigger locks (you may even be able to get them for free) and after securing the firearm, taking the keys with you.

2 Publius April 18, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Is this for real ? why would this board take up this issue ? For the press ? To advance an agenda ?

3 Al Hamilton April 18, 2013 at 4:20 PM

I was wondering about that too. I guess it is ok as long as we are not spending any tax dollars on this. Dr. Fazen is entitled to his soap box just like the rest of us.

It is hard to argue against firearm safety. The most effective thing anyone can do is to take a gun safety class even if you never plan to own a firearm.

4 resident April 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Guns aren’t the problem, people are. Mental health is where the government cuts funds time after time and then they want to restrict our right to bear arms. Obama should be mad about what happened yesterday but not for the reasons he has on his agenda.

5 Pat Q. April 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM

It’s never a black and white issue. It is most certainly about people and mental health issues, but it is also about guns. It is both. If you really keep an open mind it is undeniable.

Here is a recent commercial put out by “Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence in America”. Puts the arguement in visual form. Think about it. The capacity of these guns is the difference between taking one life and taking countless lives. It is both the guns and the people behind them. To think anything else is foolish.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/the-best-gun-control-commercial-ever-produced

6 C. Nicholas Ellis April 19, 2013 at 1:45 PM

It takes only one bullet to kill a person. A single bullet can, under the right circumstances, kill multiple people. Limiting the capacity of firearms is NOT “the difference between taking one life and taking countless lives.” The difference between taking a single life and taking countless lives is solely in the hands of the individual performing the atrocity, and it can be done with any number of instruments – from firearms, to blades, to vehicles, to home-built bombs. This state requires an individual to attend and pass a firearms safety course, apply to and pay the state for a license, and be granted approval for said license via the local police chief before someone can even purchase a firearm, or ammunition, or components of ammunition – and even then the ways in which an individual can lose that “right” are vast. We already have legal limits on the capacity of firearms in this state. It is a straw man argument.

“Guns have changed. Shouldn’t our gun laws?” Yes, and they have, tremendously so. Please educate yourself on them instead of repeating ignorant sound bites. We all would be better served. Start here: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/firearms-reg-and-laws/

7 Pat Q. April 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Under no circumstances, sir, can a single bullet kill twenty innocent, precious children while at school. Blades, vehicles and home built bombs did not kill those 20 sweet babies. A semi automatic weapon with magazines capable of firing over 20 rounds a piece in the hands of a sick young man were. I am very well educated, thank you, and do not repeat ignorant soundbites…..ever. Ever.

All the wonderful gun laws in Mass and the recent newly passed ones in CT, for that matter, will do no good as long as guns can pass over state borders, from gun shows into the hands of felons, or from online sites into the hands of crazy people and/or felons.

We would all be better served with better laws concerning these killing machines which were non-existent when 2nd amendment rights were written.

Given the number of mass shootings this country has experienced in recent years and given the wide variety of assault weapons and magazines, gun laws haven’t changed enough. Your Massachusetts firearms link does not convince me of anything. They do no good unless the gun laws from state to state are the same.

“Limiting the capacity of firearms is NOT “the difference between taking one life and taking countless lives”, is utterly wrong. The sole reason the shooter who shot Gabby Giffords was prevented from killing countless others is because someone knocked him down while he was busy changing his magazine.

8 Carrie April 20, 2013 at 8:32 AM

often at a loss for words on this subject or too emotional –or so wrapped up in how I feel to a point of bubbling over that I have a hard time debating in a coherent way as I am raising young children who I want to raise to adulthood and beyond. I thank you Pat for putting how I feel into words and providing links as well.
~Carrie

9 Al Hamilton April 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Pat

“We would all be better served with better laws concerning these killing machines which were non-existent when 2nd amendment rights were written.”

I find the “you are only entitled to a flintlock because that is what the founders knew” argument very troubling. It is clearly a case of very very strict construction (Scalia and Thomas might agree with you). If you apply that standard then Town Counsel was completely right to attempt to silence this blog a few years ago since neither press or free speech rights attach to a medium never conceived of by the founders.

10 Pat Q. April 20, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Al,

Every right, except for “the right to bear arms” it seems, is subject to limitations when it threatens others. We have the right to practice our own religion, but not if it involves human sacrifice. We have a right to free speech but you can still be sued for libel or prosecuted for conspiracy. Every attempt to put these same kind of reasonable restrictions on gun control are denied every time, even though we clearly have reached the “threaten others” criteria.
For these reasons, to me, your argument doesn’t hold up.

I do not want to take away people’s guns or their right to bear arms but clearly our current laws are ineffective. Why create more laws, you say? Because the current ones are full of holes and loopholes. I don’t want to take away the right, just have reasonable restrictions on that right.

Angry people hell bent on revenge or mentally unstable people intent on killing turn to guns, and not vehicles or swords or blades, for a damn good reason. It is the most practical choice needing little effort or skill. It is the best choice for having the most impact ….military grade weapons with a plethora of rounds for killing the most people in the shortest amount of time. Why on earth someone wouldn’t want to keep guns out of these people’s hands is beyond me. So, yes, for me it isn’t just people who kill…..it is guns.

These reasonable restrictions should not be done in a vacuum, I might add. They should go hand in hand with a serious look at our mental health care system in this country, which is clearly inadequate.

Throwing our hands up because felons won’t adhere to background checks isn’t an option either. If that is the case, we may as well shelve all our laws against sexual assault because no matter how much we ban the practice, it still occurs.

There must be an answer, I have to believe that. And some of the answer must come from the side of the gun owners, those that are unwilling to compromise on better restrictions that is.

11 C. Nicholas Ellis April 20, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Meaningful discourse cannot be achieved while emotion is allowed to trump critical thinking.

12 Pat Q. April 20, 2013 at 8:27 PM

So, C. Nicholas Ellis, you are going to ignore every argument I make on the basis that I display emotion? I like to think i am passionate about the issue. Each time a senator or member of congress makes a case for something they believe in, are we to dismiss them on the basis of being “emotional”? Who, by the way, should determine what is too emotional?

I suppose Martin Luther King was a bit emotional, too then? Or John F. Kennedy? We should definately discount Wayne LaPierre then, as his press conference after the Newtown shootings was certainly filled with emotion.

Healthy discourse about any heated, controversial topic is going to involve some emotion. We are humans and all bring to the table our convictions and beliefs intertwined with what we feel is the right and just thing to do. How we deliver that message is up for interpretation, sure, but as long as we have our facts straight and our message clear we should all have a chance at the podium….whether it be passionate or dry as toast.

13 C. Nicholas Ellis April 18, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Approximately 89 people die each day from motor vehicle accidents. Maybe he should do a presentation on that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1103.pdf
(slightly out of date)

I don’t understand his agenda. Firearms and mental illness are a bad combo? So are alcohol and vehicles. Is society so ignorant we need people to educate us on logical, common sense ideas? Not to mention there’s a large gulf between someone “having a rough patch” and having a mental illness. Besides, I didn’t know he is a licensed firearm safety instructor in the state of Massachusetts, and therefore properly trained himself in the safe handling of firearms.

Kudos on him for exercising his right to free speech, though.

14 John Butler April 20, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Mr. Ellis your claims about the impossibility of “meaningful discourse” and “critical thinking” must be some kind of confessional, because they cannot be logically entailed for others. It sometimes is the case that emotional speakers lack critical thinking, but it is not necessarily so. If I begin a statement about gun control, “Now that our murdered children are in the earth, it is time that we act to prevent a reoccurrance”, an emotional opening for sure, it does not follow that my subsequent recommendations are not the product of critical thinking or meaningful discourse. Neither is it the case for Pat.

15 C. Nicholas Ellis April 20, 2013 at 7:42 PM

If I have offended, I apologize. I was merely commenting that, given the nature of the topic, we must all – on both sides – remember to not let our emotions cloud our judgment in the pursuit of our goals. Nothing more, nothing less. The use of hyperbolic terminology displays an emotional response, designed to elicit an emotional response. I don’t see how constructive discussion can be made when people resort to such tactics. Perhaps I am short-sighted in that regard, or merely too cynical.

In any case, it was not meant to state that emotional people are not capable of critical thinking, simply that if we are going to move forward on this topic – together – we must look at the matter objectively, without the cloud of vitriol elicited by emotions. That said, I am bowing out of this conversation.

16 Al Hamilton April 21, 2013 at 9:20 AM

John

I disagree. The emotional response, however valid, often gets in the way of real communication and progress.

If you began a conversation with a someone who’s opinion on firearm’s regulation might differ from yours with the sentence you suggested the person on the other side would probably stop listening, regardless of how well thought out your proposal might be. Communication is the act of the recipient not the sender.

We have a problem with firearm violence in our country. There are other examples of countries where there is broad access to firearms (Switzerland and Israel come to mind) which do not have anything like the rates of firearm violence that we have.

The emotional responses, on both sides, prevent any meaningful progress. Firearms owners often find themselves demonized, and as a result press hard to defend the rights they feel are under assault. Gun control advocates look at various tragedies and use emotional appeals to restrict access to or ban various firearms. Lack of effective communication means that nothing effective is done.

We need to have honest conversations about firearm violence in our country. This goes beyond firearm violence which is only one component. Last night I watched the movie “Django” it was quite entertaining but also very violent and gory. We have been raising a generation of children that are being systematically desensitized to violence through various media, particularly boys. I feel this is a major contributing factor to our problem. But we can’t talk about this because we are too busy screaming at each other.

We should have universal background checks. But we wont get them as long as firearm owners and the NRA view these checks as just another assault on their 2nd Amendment rights. Many believe, correctly in my opinion, that once the universal background checks are in place then the next round of firearms controls will be put forth. We need to find a way to assure firearms owners of some certainty as to what the 2nd Amendment really means and what there is policy stability. Tarring firearms and by extension those that own them does nothing to promote that dialog.

17 John Butler April 21, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Al,
With regard to your point that the listener’s thinking is sometimes impeded by the speaker’s emotion, I agreed in what I wrote. That is why I said the claim might be a “confessional”. However, charges of making “emotional arguments” have a sufficiently sordid history in gender relations that I wanted to challenge the implication that emotion implies a lack of logic on the part of the speaker.

As for your diagnosis of the nation’s gun ills, personally I’d rather rather confine my remarks in this forum to those aspects that are strictly within the Town. That is just my limit for now. For me that means simply that if Dr. Fazen wants to volunteer his time to raise awareness of the hazard of mixing mental instability and guns, or urging safe gun storage, I’m for thanking him.

18 Louis Fazen. MD, MPH April 19, 2013 at 1:17 AM

The data on Motor Vehicle Deaths listed above makes good sense. Motor vehicle deaths are down to the lowest level in 60 years (per 100,000 population). Actually the deaths are down more than 50 %. It is pretty obvious how that happened: safer drivers, safer roads and much safer cars and air bags and car seats for children. That decrease in premature deaths of healthy people resulted from research and legislation to push manufacturers to make safer cars and public education and acceptance that people could save their own lives and the lives of family passengers by using safety equipment. Is it conceivable over the next generation that adequate research and public education and legislation could save 50% of firearm deaths? That’s 15,000 people per year who get a chance to live a full life with their family and friends. Isn’t this an issue of family values?

19 C. Nicholas Ellis April 19, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Vehicles are a completely different apparatus than firearms. They are very large, very heavy, very complex pieces of machinery that move at high speeds – “controlled” by man and the laws of physics, which works both for and against them. I would hazard a guess that most vehicular-related deaths are caused by negligence on the part of the driver. There are very few technologies presently available to prevent such occurrences (though they are working on it). There have been significant strides made in regards to improving the safety of modern vehicles, just as there have been with firearms. Persons are required to receive training and become licensed in order to drive in this state – just as they are with firearms. Firearms are required to be securely locked when not under the direct control of the owner / operator, have built-in safety devices, and have to go through physical manipulation in order to be made “unsafe” (loading the magazine, chambering a round, and if applicable switching the safety off – or, in the case of some firearms, holding the gun in such a way as to deactivate the safety if it utilizes a grip or trigger safety). Vehicles require a person behind the wheel (although the argument can be made that a vehicle is still dangerous in the event of it rolling loose, hence the use of parking brakes and the Park position in an automatic). A firearm is of no danger to anyone when it is locked up, nor when it is unloaded.

We already have “adequate” research and legislation in this state to safeguard against firearm deaths. None of that matters if the person who owns the firearm either willfully chooses to bypass those safeguards and/or ignore said legislation. We do not have nearly enough public education regarding the safe handling of firearms, but that (IMHO) is in large part due to the fear-mongering of the ignorant regarding what a firearm is and what it is capable of. If we could get 50% more of the populace to attend firearm safety courses I would be a very happy individual. It won’t change the fact that some people are just idiots, willfully or ignorantly, but at least it would be a step in the right direction. I do not see bio-metric locks on firearms as an answer, just as we do not have them on vehicles (and I find vehicles to be far more dangerous than any properly maintained & handled firearm, if only because vehicles are so ubiquitous the level of people who do not treat them with the respect and caution they deserve is naturally going to rise at least linearly).

The issues surrounding mental health, background checks, and privacy concerns is certainly an interesting (albeit thorny) topic, but one I’m not well-versed enough in to have a strong opinion at this point. On the one hand, I believe those who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness should not be in possession of firearms if it can be said such possession will put others at risk, but on the other hand I’m fiercely in favor of citizens rights to privacy. It’s a tricky balance to strike, and I expect it will be a contentious debate for a long time to come before it all gets settled.

As I said, kudos to you for attempting to raise awareness of firearm safety. So long as your efforts are neither overly political nor an attempt to garner support for hindering or removing my rights, I say more power to you. We certainly need more education – and less rhetoric – regarding firearm safety.

20 John Butler April 20, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I would like to commend Dr. Fazen for taking up this issue. Apart from the substance, which I think is important, merely being willing to address an issue publicly, for the public’s benefit, that is so highly emotionally charged is commendable.

On the substance, I think he is correct that many factors of socially supported awareness go into fostering the safe handing of any dangerous object. Enhancing that awareness though heightened social consciousness and public discussion can benefit safety. This method is known to work whether the goal is heightening awareness about drunk driving, bike helmets, or about the many facets of gun safety.

In particular raising broad social awareness of the hazards of combining gun access and mental instability has potential to save lives. As other posters noted, it is not always easy, just as it is not always easy to prevent an intoxicated person from driving a car. But, greater social awareness and support for action about this particular risk can help reduce both suicides and homicides by gun.

For example, note that the first victim at Newtown was an apparently well-trained gun owner, the mother of the murderer. She had been to gun classes and apparently been taught how to handle guns. Whatever self-protection she supposed she would attain through gun ownership, in this event the fatal and tragic flaw arose when, seeing signs of mental illness in her son, she failed to prevent him from gaining access to her lethal arsenal. Perhaps had the social awareness of the risks of gun ownership and mental illness been such that she understood the necessity for action, perhaps if a Dr. Fazen had run his outreach in Newtown, she would have kept her guns away from her son, and thereby saved not only her own life but the lives of so many children.

We cannot be sure in any one case what will work, just as we cannot be sure about exactly what highway death will be averted by education about drunk driving. But, when our knowledgeable volunteers such as Dr. Fazen, step up to increase awareness of safety risks, they should have our thanks.

21 Matthew Brownell April 20, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Dr. Fazen –

I am sure you are well-intentioned in your motives to reduce firearm fatalities.
Yet it is infantile and intellectually disingenuous to attempt a logical parallel between decreasing auto fatalities/safer cars, and decreased firearms fatalities through “safer guns” and legislative restrictions.

As I recall, more than 95% of firearms fatalities are caused by serial, repeat felons (gangs, drug traffickers, career criminals). I am fairly certain that all the cheesy trigger locks, gun safes, biometric readers, magazine restrictions, safety devices, and other feel-good encumbrances levied on the law-abiding, gun-owning public will do absolutely jack-squat in addressing the naked reality of your pain – which is an increasing criminals element that is released to run amok.

Perhaps your time would be more productive through taking up another health-concern regarding motor vehicles – where you could have substantive impact. In 2011, 3,331 Americans were killed, and 387,000 injured – in crashes involving a distracted driver . . . primarily drivers yacking and texting into a cellphone.

22 Carl Guyer April 22, 2013 at 7:55 AM

Mr. Brownell’s assertion that 95% of all firearms fatalities are caused by serial, repeat felons is “dead” wrong. To start with half of all gun fatalities are from suicides and it has been proven that increased gun ownership rates increase overall suicide rates. I agree with Mr. Brownell that 3,331 dead Americans due to cell phone usage during driving is absurd and that is why I support laws banning cell phone usage while driving. To be consistent, I also think 30,000 dead Americans from firearms each year is absurd and therefore support major restrictions on gun ownership.

23 Matthew Brownell April 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Mr. Geyer –

Yes, half of all gun fatalities are from suicides. I stand corrected on that (I was thinking about homicides, not suicides)

But from what study are you extrapolating your conclusion that “increased gun ownership rates increase overall suicide rates” , or that “Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of death from firearms much of which can be attributed to the difficulty of buying guns in Massachusetts”?

You present a Mother Jones scatter diagram that shows a **correlation** between states with the highest level of gun ownership, and rates of gun death:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5bwgQxnXEokUEdjZUF5Rnh0UFE/edit?usp=sharing

Yet, as one learns in a basic statistics class – correlation does not equal causation – until you control for impacting variables. When you attempt to leverage a causal conclusion from just 2 factors to advance an anti-gun agenda, it usually leads to slippery generalizations, misleading conclusions, and logical lapses.

For example, Massachusetts (and the Northeast in general) have an aged/mature population relative to other states, and this certainly has a dampening effect on the rate of crimes committed with firearms – which are often committed by males in 18-25 age category.

It could be that that more sparsely-populated states like Montana, Wyoming, etc., (and those with highest % of gun ownership) are underserved respective mental health services access, and have higher rates of suicide, regardless of the tool used.

Or perhaps the rate of gun ownership in Massachusetts is lower because, say, 1/2 the population of Boston is comprised of college students – who have little need for firearms for sport or family protection.

Or maybe gun “ownership” in Massachusetts and other urban states is actually much higher than what is reported in your Mother Jones diagram. Certainly, in an atmosphere of Liberal Bigotry, Far-Left intolerance, demonizing gun owners, and punitive gun registration fees – there are simply millions of guns that are driven underground, and go unreported/unregistered.

I suggest that you may want tighten up on these variables before soap-boxing on the merits of an Anti-Constitutional, socially-engineered gun grab.

24 Karen Muggeridge April 24, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Here is an online JAMA article, “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States”, which may be of interest. It may address some of the questions raised. It is current, published in 3/13.

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1661390

25 mike fuce April 19, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Honestly, when you read the above article, don’t you ask yourself, who do you know that is stable 24/7 and I would say no one. What the good doctors and nurses should be looking at, is what medications the murders were or are on?. Why is it boys? I would have to say good doctors and nurses, look at the Ritalin which is a derivative in the same group as cocaine and speed (chemical compound family), correct. And if a young boy is on this medication for 5,10,15,20 years, like the crack addict or coke addict, it does tremendous damage to the basic physiological base over time (and then throw in violent Hollywood and games). Good doctor, how many young boys in this country now are on the “mind control” drugs administered in the name of “controlling” active (called hyperactive by some doctors/nurses) boys. How about a study of what happens to young boys, and possibly some young girls, when they are forced into public school for eight hours a day and predominantly told to sit? And they can not? Ritalin to the rescue. And all of these young people that used firearms incorrectly were on one of the Ritalin type drugs. How about that for a Doctor/nurse study? Leave the 99.99% of legal, respectful, law abiding firearms holders alone and study why in the last twenty years this has happend predominantly to boys. Please study the crisis of boys in America, that is the true crisis. Honestly, some of us carried and used our .22 rifles in school firearms club when we were young and honestly there was never an issue. Hmmmmm, are we honest, think about that.

26 Jim Leuck April 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Having been raised with, trained on, and used guns my entire life, I have no fear of them. Guns need to be understood and respected for what they are….an object that has the ability to be fun, enjoyable, useful, and potentially dangerous. In this respect they are no different than a car, bike, motorcycle, skateboard, kitchen knife, chainsaw, or lawnmower. I personally wish firearm safety training was mandated in the curriculum of both grade school and high school. This not only would save lives, it would also help to dispell much of the hysteria surrounding guns that is so prevalent today. I found Dr. Fazens statement about “friends” determining someone’s competency to own a firearm very troubling.

I would ask the Board of Health to next tackle an area that does cause me great concern, that of medical errors. While the study is somewhat dated (2000), the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates 250,000 deaths annually due to iatrogenic causes. This is the third leading cause of death in the US, behind cancer and heart disease. Iatrogenic causes includes not only doctor errors, but also in excess of 80,000 deaths due to infections contracted while in the hospital. I would find it very beneficial if our Board of Health compiled a ranking of area hospitals detailing which had the best outcomes for various proceedures (lowest rates of death and complications), and also which had the lowest infection rates.

I understand that guns are the sexy issue of our time. I believe that the probability of a Southborough resident being injured or killed by a firearm is extremely small, and would be smaller with mandatory firearms training.

I do, however, believe many people in our great town will be affected by medical errors in our lifetime (my mother was killed by one). My greatest fear (perhaps irrational), is the thought of my daughter needing to go to the hospital. Having the information requested above would provide our community with a truly valuable service, and would provide me with great peace of mind.

On a final note, I would urge all parents to voluntarily participate in a firearms safety program along with your children (you do not need to own a firearm). Not only will you will be doing them a great service, you likely will discover a new activity you can enjoy by yourself or with your entire family. There are Sportsman’s Clubs in most of the surrounding towns (including Southborough). Most are family oriented, many have youth programs, and almost all are geared toward educating both our youth and the general population in the safe use of firearms. More than likely, some of your friends and neighbors are members.

27 Nancy Sacco; Southboro BOH member April 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I would just like to clarify that the Board of Health is not against the right to responsibly own firearms. My husband is an avid hunter and he has guns in a gun safe in our home and takes the appropriate safety measures as I am hopeful most gun owners in town do as well.

28 Al Hamilton April 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Nancy

Surely the BOH must have known that this is a controversial topic and the approach being suggested could easily be construed as activism.

I think Dr. Fazen’s approach is mistaken. He posits that there is a technological fix that can greatly reduce the number of firearm deaths in the course of 10 or 20 years. If firearms were cars this might be possible. But they are not.

Leaving aside the emotional, ethical and legal issues the math does not work.

Cars have a useful life that is on the order of 15-20 years. A new universally adopted technology (eg like seat belts) will work their way into the vast majority of vehicles on the road in 15 or 20 years.

Firearms, however, have a much longer expected life. Even minimally maintained they can operate properly for over 100 years. It is possible today to purchase serviceable, “modern” rifles that were built for the Spanish American war. Any “new” technology that was uniformly adopted would only impact the stock of firearms at the margins for decades. It certainly would do nothing to prevent those who want to acquire a firearm for malicious reasons for doing so.

If the BOH wants to do something meaningful to promote firearm safety then perhaps they could team up with one of the local clubs and offer local firearm safety courses. If more people were knowledgeable about the safe handling and storage of firearms that would, in my opinion, have a much bigger public health benefit than creating controversy with an activist agenda.

29 Nancy Sacco; Southboro BOH member April 19, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Al, I appreciate your input and agree that any education re: firearm safety is a wonderful idea and could be hugely beneficial. I do, however, support Dr. Fazen because from what I understand of his planned presentation at the Library it is not meant to be construed as activism. Maybe I am naive, but I truly believe his only “agenda” is to promote safety.

30 Al Hamilton April 20, 2013 at 7:40 AM

Nancy

Dr. Frazen is a smart guy. He has done a very good job for our community and we are lucky to have him. I think he knows what he is doing and he is waving the proverbial red flag at the bull.

He has in fact discussed both biometric locks and legislative approaches to firearm safety. These are red flags for those that believe that their 2nd amendment rights are already being eroded.

The vast vast majority of firearm owners in this country (about 1/3 of the households) take their responsibilities seriously and maintain their firearms in a safe manner. Those folks are being made to feel like pariahs and criminals. Nearly all of the legislative and technical approaches being suggested are targeting this group of citizens and further demonizing them. This is wrongheaded in my opinion and leads to stalemate.

All the while we avoid the real issues. Yes, I am in favor of some form of universal background check. We also need to find a way to prevent those with serious mental health issues from acquiring firearms (something the Commonwealth does not do) without jeopardizing the legitimate rights of someone “going through a rough patch”.

31 Carl Guyer April 21, 2013 at 9:20 AM

For those who are interested in gun safety, you might want to consider the following graph associating gun ownership and gun violence. Keeping a gun in your home for protection makes even less sense than keeping a pitbull as a watchdog.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5bwgQxnXEokUEdjZUF5Rnh0UFE/edit?usp=sharing

32 Al Hamilton April 22, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Isn’t that a decision that a, competent, law abiding, adult should be able to make for themselves?

33 Carl Guyer April 22, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Competence is the core issue here.

34 Al Hamilton April 22, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Competence, in Mass, for those that follow the law requires the following just to be permitted to have a firearm:

For “long guns” (rifles and shotguns) with magazines of 10 rounds or less (5 for shotguns)
Age – 18 or 15 with parents permission
Must take a state certified firearms safety or hunter education course
Pay $100 or $25 (minors) for a 6 year license
Apply for a license at the police station
This license is available “by right” meaning that it cannot be denied provided that the applicant meets the required standard which includes a background check. This is also know as “Shall Issue”

For Handguns and Large Capacity (11+ round magazines)
Must be 21+
Must take a state certified firearms course or hunter training course
Must pay $100 for a 6 year license
Must apply at the police station
Must be fingerprinted
There are 2 classes of License including a “License to Carry”. The issuance of this type of license is up to the discretion of the police. Also known as “May Issue”

Then, provided you go to a Federally licensed firearms dealer, you must show your license to purchase either ammunition or a firearm. In addition, for firearm purchases there is a lengthy form to fill out, followed by a call to the FBI to do a background check.

There are also a number of specific rules and regulations concerning the storage and transport of firearms.

My point is that we do not lack for a solid model of how to filter for competence in this state. I think what many law abiding firearms owners object to is that there is an endless list of additional restrictions and hoops being proposed with will make those that abide by the laws lives more difficult. These include proposals to require insurance, consumer safety laws that would require biometric locks, Consumer safety laws that limit the types of firearms you can purchase (we have these in Mass), and attempts to treat firearm ownership as a “public health” issue.

Of course non of this applies to people who don’t want to follow the law.

35 Carl Guyer April 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Al, exactly to the point. If you look at the graph I provided you will see Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of death from firearms much of which can be attributed to the difficulty of buying guns in Massachusetts. It is the holes in the process, such as the two bombers who obtained guns probably legally in another state or at a gun show, that is the problem. The insane death rate in the US from gun violence has gone on too long. We have long passed the level of reasonable behavior that justifies the rights grantred in the 2nd amendment. Gun owners need to find a solution to this problem or they will lose their rights, it is their problem.

36 Al Hamilton April 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Carl

Be careful what you wish for. Aside from the almost impossibility of changing/eliminating the 2nd amendment, there is the real question of whether you want to set the precedence of changing the bill of rights. I think there are at least 2 of them that are potentially more at risk than the 2nd.

Regardless, I used the Mass example as an example of how competence, which I agree is important, is measured. We also have among the lowest rates of firearm ownership in the country. I am not sure if our restrictive laws are causal or not. But low rates of ownership would be at least as effective an explanation of our low rate of gun deaths as our regulatory environment.

The challenge in Mass. Where we already have restrictive licensing requirements is that additional regulations “pile on” to the lawful owners who have already had to meet a high standard of competency. At the margin I do not think piling on additional bureaucracy produce meaningful results. And, as I mentioned this does nothing for those that choose to ignore the laws.

For the record, I am not a member of the NRA and I do support universal background checks. I am very conflicted about registering people with mental health issues. The practical side of me wants to make sure that they cannot get access to firearms. The civil libertarian in my is very troubled by the mental health registry this list will be abused.

37 mike fuce April 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Here are some government stats for all you Big Government folks: As I chimed in earlier without the states. And, the constitutional law is not for you or anyone to change. Government is getting way to big folks.

And here are the stats on the kids that are on pharma drugs.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/americans-snapping-by-the-millions/

• Incredibly, 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming correlation with school shooters. Women are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23 percent of all American women in their 40s and 50s – almost one in four – now taking antidepressants, according to a major study by the CDC;
• Add to that the tens of millions of users of all other types of psychiatric drugs, including (just to pick one) the 6.4 million American children between 4 and 17 diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin or similar psycho-stimulants. Throw in the 28 percent of American adults with a drinking problem, that’s more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, and pretty soon a picture emerges of a nation of drug-takers, with hundreds of millions dependent on one toxic substance or another – legal or illegal – to “help” them deal with the stresses and problems of life.

38 Carl Guyer April 24, 2013 at 6:32 AM

Mike what are you talking about. The constitution has a process written into it for changing it. The founding fathers understood they were not gods and expected time and experience would require modification of their well crafted document. I like your analysis of the mental health of Americans, who would allow these people to own guns. Fix these drug related problems or the 2nd Amendment needs to go. Your assertion is what is typically called a “red herring”, an attempt do deflect criticism by raising another issue.

39 Louis Fazen, MD, MPH April 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Let me weigh in again with a couple points about the Library presentation on June 13th.
1) I will be speaking about firearm safety as a Board of Health member but not for the Board of Health. The Southborough BOH has not discussed this issue in depth nor have we taken any position.
2) My topic centers on the more than 30,000 premature deaths in the USA each year associated with firearms.
3) Yes, I have a point of view (just as others who have contributed to this blog). I am influenced by decades of experience as a pediatrician in Massachusetts and by my training in epidemiology and public health.
4) The purpose is to provide a forum for the respectful discussion about the possibilities for reducing the death toll from firearms.
5) In response to another blog, yes, let’s also open the discussion in a subsequent forum about medical errors, a leading cause of death in medical care facilities.
Summary:
Reducing premature deaths benefits individuals, their families and our society.

40 John Kendall April 22, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Perhaps if you do the presentation as Dr. Louis Fazen, MD, MPH, rather than a member of the Board of Health, you can express your own opinions rather than pull the town into something it doesn’t want to be in.

41 Just Curious April 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM

Mr. Kendall has concisely summarized my opposition to Dr. Fazen’s grandstanding.

42 John Kendall April 24, 2013 at 9:47 PM

I wouldn’t call it grandstanding…..but don’t drag the Town into your personal opinions.

43 mike fuce April 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Oh my good gash, are you kidding me. Where did you find that made up source of 30,000 deaths? Please quote the source because there are no such figures that are true. And for one, it is now on my calendar to be there (June 13) to challenge your assumptions and unfounded statistics. Thank you for this blog making us aware.

44 Southside Gadsden Flyer April 25, 2013 at 2:34 PM

I am with you Mike. Cars kill more people per year than handguns (in 2011, average deaths were 89/day due to motorvehicle accidents), and yet no one is talking about banning the use of cars, even if could “save just one life!” I’ll be at this presentation in June supporting my right to protect myself.

45 John Butler April 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Mr. Fuce,

You might want to take your vituperation to Atlanta rather than the June 13 library presentation, because the Centers for Disease Control is a source for that number. More specifically Dr. Fazen has understated the CDC number which reports 31,672 firearm deaths in 2010 in the US. Here is a link to the CDC web site with that number:http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm

46 Publius April 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Will there be other meetings on other inanimate objects that can cause harm ? Knives, Automobiles, backyard swimming pools, snowblowers ? the ever dangerous ladder ? This is dangerous turf for a town board to tread. And if boards get too politiczed it hampers the ability to conduct meaningful town business. Also these discussions can go both ways on an issue.

47 Publius April 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM

The CDC links has a plethora of wonderful numbers. One must dig a bit though. Taking a number at face value is always a dangerous avenue to travel. Based on those CDC numbers perhaps the board should hold a hearing on drunk driving thats puts us all at such grave risk pretty much every time we drive.

48 anonymous please April 23, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Publius-
Yes, other innanimate objects can inadvertently cause harm… you could cut your finger while slicing vegetables or fall off a ladder while painting your house. But I am unaware of any use for a firearm other than killing people or animals. The inherent purpose of a gun is to cause harm.

49 Just Curious April 23, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Anonymous please states “The inherent purpose of a gun is to cause harm.” That statement is absurd.

The gun owner who shoots for recreation at the Southborough gun club is causing no harm. The hunter who uses the rifle to hunt cannot be accused of causing harm. The homeowner who maintains a firearm for self-protection certainly is not causing harm.

50 anonymous please April 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Guns are for killing… unfortunately there is a place for them in our society but let’s not be in denial about what they do. From a deer’s point of view, a hunter with a rifle is most certainly causing harm. I do not believe a family is any safer living in a house with a firearm – in some cases they are less safe. A firearm for self protection is not necessary for most people in this densely populated part of the country. For those that are more likely to face an armed assailant – cab drivers, convenience store owners, and drug dealers for instance- it may be sensible to possess a firearm. For the rest of us, a phone to call 911 and a baseball bat under the bed should suffice. Simply maintaining a firearm is not causing harm but the point of having it for self protection is to possess the capability to take a life if necessary – let’s be honest.

51 Carl Guyer April 25, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Wrong…. A homeowner who keeps a firearm in his house increases the probability someone in the home will get shot by 4.5 times and that there will be a gun related death by 2 times. The potential for preventing harm to someone in the home is miniscule. The suicide rate for homes with hand guns is significantly higher. By the way, if you can get the shooters over at the Westborough Rod and Gun club to stop annoying everyone with their shooting noise, even on Sundays, it would be greatly appreciated.

52 Al Hamilton April 25, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Carl

I believe you are referring to the Southborough Rod and Gun Club which is actually located in Hopkinton. I do not believe there is a Westborough club.

That facility has been in existence for well over 50 years. Anyone who has moved within ear shot within the last 50+ years has no basis of complaint.

53 Matthew April 25, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Who can I complain to?
It’s in another town for starters and we had less influence on the “potential” hazardous waste via rail in Westborough that we would about a 50+ year old gun club.
Who can say they would even want a gun club next door or a gun owner?
Who wants a semi-truck tearing down the street and locking up their brakes so as not to hit a school bus?
Who wants loud motorcycles and muscle cars with illegal exhaust systems? HA! That’s a laugh, both illegal and the police do nothing about them.

Find a balance and learn to live with the people and idiots all around you because they sure aren’t going away anytime soon and you’ll be long dead before anything changes.
Guns are a part of life just like cigarettes, porn, child abusers, war and all the rest. It sure was nicer on Gilligan’s Island!

54 SB Resident April 25, 2013 at 4:05 PM

The they’ve been doing for a long time so they can keep doing it argument has never held water before.

55 Carl Guyer April 29, 2013 at 4:44 PM

No basis of complaint…. Now Al, you know better than that. There is a constant barrage of gun fire on some days that makes this corner of Southborough sound like a war zone or at least a military firing range. I hear some pretty large caliber weapons being discharged over there. Can you tell me the level of noise 50 years ago and should we hold them to that standard ?

56 Al Hamilton April 29, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Carl

Your argument is like the guy that buys a house next to a dairy farm and then complains about the smell.

57 Southern Breeze May 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

“By the way, if you can get the shooters over at the Westborough Rod and Gun club to stop annoying everyone with their shooting noise, even on Sundays, it would be greatly appreciated.”

If that statement is not sarcastic, you really need to be moving on. The SRGClub had their first meeting and drew up their charter in January of 1946. While a lot has changed since then, they have every right to continue to use their property within the bounds set by the town of Hopkinton. No doubt what you are hearing is the Sunday afternoon skeet/trap that starts at 1:00. I set my clock to it and miss the “noise” they start late. Now if you want to do something constructive, get that route 90 thing moved or eliminate trucks from it on Sundays like it used to be.

58 Carl Guyer May 4, 2013 at 4:47 PM

We all have the freedom of speech, but only the ignorant exercise that right in a vulgar and annoying manner. To continue to blast away on Sunday afternoons when it is evident it is annoying to many is inconsiderate and rude. Why is it that gun owners always try to deflect criticism that hits the nail on the head by pointing out some other issue such as the noise created by traffic, traffic fatalities, video games, etc.. It is a bad ploy, it just validates the original criticism. Yes the noise from Route 90 is annoying, just like the firing noise.

59 Al Hamilton April 24, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Anonymous

There are a fair number of firearms related Olympic sports. These include trap, pistol, and rifle competitions. These sports are practiced by millions of people in this country. Firearm sports are very safe, safer than football, baseball, basketball, skiing, golf etc.

The overwhelming majority of the uses of firearms 99%+ are for activities where the only thing that is “harmed” is a target, clay pigeon, or tin can. You can make the argument that the intended purpose of a firearm is for the use in firearm sport just as the intended use of a baseball bat’s intended use is for baseball. Both can be used for self defense (an appropriate use in my opinion) both can be misused for malicious intent and both can be involved in accidents.

I am not trying to diminish the challenge we have with our violent culture or the role that relatively easy access to firearms has in it. But, demonizing firearms, and by extension those that own and use them is not moving the ball forward

60 Carl Guyer April 25, 2013 at 7:34 AM

Al, your logic is not right. A baseball bat is made to hit a baseball, but is sometimes used to club someone to death. A gun is made to kill (handguns are specifically made to kill people) and is sometimes used in practice sessions as a sporting event.

FYI : did you forget about the Navy Seal shot and killed at the shooting range just recently.

61 Resident April 25, 2013 at 9:30 AM

The “sport” involving guns is either the killing of animals or the simulation of killing animals and/or people. Cooking is not the simulation of stabbing someone; playing baseball is not the simulation of bludgeoning someone to death, drving is not a simulation of crashing a car. A gun is first and foremost a weapon .

62 Southside Gadsden Flyer April 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM

I don’t know what club you belong to, but I’ve never “simulated” killing anyone or any any animal when target shooting. If you are talking video games, then yes, I’m guilty.

63 Carl Guyer April 29, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Don’t be silly, firing a gun is the thrill of power. I have fired everything from muzzle loaders, handguns, shotguns, rifles, fully automatic weapons to artillery (the big stuff). It is always the the same, a power trip in a make believe world called a firing range. It is not so make believe when the “targets” fire back. Never try to tell me firing that a range is not a fantasy session or practice for the real thing.

64 Publius April 29, 2013 at 3:36 PM

There a distinct minority of people, generally on the far left who feel that they know what is best for others. Their chief goal is to control. Hopefully the Board of Health stays within its purview and rejects any serious discussion of this matter. Its out of order

65 John Butler April 29, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Publius, it is not for you to say what is in or out of order for the Board of Health. They have no legal requirement to keep their topics within anyone’s view of what they may or may not do or say. You are entitled to your opinion about what they ought to do, but that is all that it is. The Board could take a position advocating repeal of the 2nd Amendment on a motion and majority vote. There is no power to prevent it. Your recourse in that event, the only recourse available to anyone, if you don’t like what they do or say, would be to run for the Board of Health, or support candidates more to your liking, but your “out of order” language is just rhetoric.

In general, I fail to see why gun advocates can’t just relax about this, or support it. If there was going to be a presentation on the risks of smoking, would smokers be so agitated? (They don’t even enjoy a constitutional right to smoke, so presumably might feel more threatened.) Ladder owners, re ladder risks? Would drivers or drinkers be concerned about learning that a presentation about the hazards of mixing the two was to occur? Why is it hard to see that heightened public alertness to the risks of mental instability and gun access might help, particularly when a well-trained gun owner, the Newtown mother, was just murdered by her deranged son using the very weapons she had assembled, and carefully trained on, for her self-defense. Gun owners should be able to identify with gun owners murdered with their own guns. I would think that the magnitude of that irony would be sufficient to secure enthusiastic support for building such mental illness awareness.

66 Al Hamilton April 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM

John

“In general, I fail to see why gun advocates can’t just relax about this, or support it.”

There is a perfectly logical reason why topics like this raise the hackles of those that support “firearms rights”. The long and short of it is that those folks do not believe that some incremental reduction is their personal rights will be the end of the story. Rather they see the next regulation/restriction as just part of a relentless chipping away of their personal rights. Once the bar is moved, the next campaign will be waged to move it again.

If you believe this, and want to defend your personal rights, then the only rational action is to defend the first instance of this reduction in personal rights.

Dr. Fazen, wittingly or not, poured gasoline on the fire by referring to a legislative approach to reducing firearms deaths. He might as well have waved a red flag at a bull.

If we want to actually make progress on this topic in my lifetime, we need to find a way to bring firearm owners into the process of crafting plans to reduce firearm deaths. In part this means providing them with assurances that are more than pretty words that their rights are secure. One thing that Mass could do is to join the 30+state reciprocity compact. This permits recognition of a firearms licenses issued in other states but requires the holder to still follow the laws of the state they are in (much like a drivers license). The current “standard” is the Utah standard which in some respects is more stringent than the Mass standard and in some respects less.

This blog is a microcosm of what is going on in Washington (that is not a complement). It is clear that some here would prefer to repeal the second amendment or at a minimum redefine it to irrelevance. That in turn leads to a knee jerk reaction by others to not give an inch.

Progress will only be made when each side gives something they would prefer not to, and gets something they really want in return. Absent this, stalemate.

67 Southern Breeze May 4, 2013 at 9:59 AM

There is a perfectly logical reason why topics like this raise the hackles of those that support “firearms rights”. The long and short of it is that those folks do not believe that some incremental reduction is their personal rights will be the end of the story. Rather they see the next regulation/restriction as just part of a relentless chipping away of their personal rights. Once the bar is moved, the next campaign will be waged to move it again.

Exactly. While I am pro back ground checks, I realize that once that step is achieved, there will be another and another and another step towards removing guns from everyone but the criminals.

68 Matthew Brownell April 30, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Mr. Butler,

If the BOH wants to bring public awareness to the potential dangers of mental illness and gun ownership, by all means – have at it. But it is not within the purview or jurisdiction of the Southborough BOH to assess, evaluate, suggest, or foist policies that call for Southborough residents to second-guess the mental health of their gun-owning neighbors, and in the process – neuter and bastardize the 2nd Amendment.

Can the BOH advocate the repeal of the 2nd Amendment? Yes they can. May they repeal the 2nd Amendment for Southborough residents? No, they may not.

Frankly, if a resident is without a felony record, it is not any of your business – or the province of any governmental entity – to question the where, when, what, or whys of that resident’s gun ownership activities. To suggest otherwise is symptomatic of government arrogance and Grab-Tastic regulatory inbreeding that has now reached colossal proportions.

69 Pat Q. April 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Speaking for myself, I do not want to repeal second amendment rights but do feel there should be limitations that both sides could perhaps agree on. Limitations that are present, reasonable and acceptable for other rights that we have: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, for example.

My feeling is that no matter how small the request is (most recent one about universal background checks and not all out gun control reform or restriction) the “slippery slope” argument is used and fear tactics run amuck. Even you, Al, bring up the mountains of paperwork law abiding gun owners would be subject to as well as additional rules and regulations they would be burdened with. I do not mean that you use fear tactics; I only mean that you present the argument of additional “burdens” gun owners would be subject to.

All the gun owners I know and know of, are law abiding citizens and take their ownership seriously with regard to safety and storage. I trust that if you provide the correct documents and pass certain checks you should be able to purchase a gun. Just like I believe the same when you purchase a car which will be driving the roads my children are on and purchase a mortgage from the bank my money is in. If you provide the proper proof that you are capable, then you have the right to move forward. The rules should be the same for everyone. If you don’t have a job you should not be able to take out a mortgage. If you have 7 DUI’s you should not be able to secure a drivers license. If you are a felon, on a FBI watch list, or have a documented history of mental illness, you should not be able to purchase a gun.

When you purchase a home and seek a mortgage, mountains of paperwork are involved. Rightly so, the paperwork, legal documents and other hoops to jump through we’re greatly increased following the financial crisis and mortgage collapse in this country. We are all gladly abiding by these stricter rules and regulations because it is the right thing to do for all involved to prevent another fleecing of consumers. When something doesn’t work, you fix it. If it continues to not work, you continue to tweek it until you have reached a reasonable solution to appease most on all sides.

Clearly, the ease with which felons, terrorists and mentally unstable people can acquire guns is a reality and isn’t working for this country. How anyone can deny this simple reality is difficult to comprehend. I believe there is a way to try….TRY to start to address these issues which clearly plague this country.

I hope my points are clear and do not offend. I have not yelled, poured out my emotions or spewed vitriol. I do believe I am worthy of being a part of this conversation and my beliefs as a citizen of this country are just as valid as anyone’s. I do believe I have made reasonable and sensible points and look forward to any counter points.

70 Al Hamilton April 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Pat:

I am not opposed to reasonable bureaucracy that is designed to keep firearms out of the wrong hands while at the same time not unduly burdening those that meet the bureaucratic hurdle. At present we do not have such a system. In Mass have the bureaucracy but not an effective system of keeping firearms out of the wrong hands.

1. We have a pretty strong system for making sure that a Mass. firearms license is not issued to someone with a felony record or restraining order.

2. We have a good very strong for making sure that someone without a license cannot purchase a firearm or ammunition from a Federally licensed dealer in Mass.

3. We do not have a system that prevents people with well documented mental health issues from purchasing firearms in Mass unless they have a felony conviction / restraining order.

4. We do not have a system that prevents people without a license or with felony convictions from procuring a firearm from a person who is not a licensed dealer.

The challenge as I see it is that most gun control advocates have focused on demonizing those who meet the proper requirements for having a license (those are fairly high in this state). Those folks are rightly miffed at being demonized and as a result being pushed into a corner where they will resist any change.

The challenge is to find a way to deal with #3 and #4 as a start.

I am personally in favor of universal background checks which would deal with #4. I believe that will make a big dent in some types of gun violence. However, that will not do much on the mental health front unless there is a national registry of persons with mental health issues sufficiently serious enough to require removing one of their constitutional rights. I remain painfully conflicted on this front because I am certain this process will be abused.

I think a lot of firearm owners would support universal background checks and perhaps some form of a mental health registry if they could be made to believe that the rest of their existing rights were to be reaffirmed.

71 Publius April 30, 2013 at 3:43 PM

What MGL or CMR allows a local of board of health to bring this issue withinin it purview ? I can find none.

72 Pat Q. April 30, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Thanks for your response Al. I agree with most of what you say. I would also add that as strict and tight as Mass. Gun laws may be, they are only as good as the laws of the states around it…..at least where the “bad guys” are concerned.

In separate posts you state the following:
“I think a lot of firearm owners would support universal background checks and perhaps some form of a mental health registry if they could be made to believe that the rest of their I their existing rights were to be reaffirmed.”
“We need to find a way to assure firearms owners of some certainty as to what the 2nd Amendment really means and what there is policy stability”

Haven’t most of American citizens, via polls, said they are for universal background checks therefore concluding that they do not fear the rest of their existing rights will be taken away? Didn’t a majority of NRA members say they were for Universal background checks? Didn’t part of the legislation brought before the senate include making it a felony for gun registration records to be kept?

How else can we assure those remaining that their existing rights are off limits and won’t be on the chopping block? Didn’t DC v Heller put to rest the fears of these non-believers in the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment? How many more hoops do we have to jump through to get the bare minimum which is a universal background check?

73 Al Hamilton May 1, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Pat

Heller did not create a set of well understood rights for firearm owners. It held that the second amendment guaranteed a personal right that a state could not over regulate but did little to clarify the details which are very important to firearms owners. The “devil” is in the details. It remains to be seen if the sweeping restrictions on magazine capacity and firearm types enacted by New York meet the threshold.

It is the New York type of restrictions that telegraph the intent of firearm control advocates to the firearm owning community. That in turn leads to stiff opposition to even the type of regulation you and I might agree was reasonable.

I suspect that in the coming few years we will see some of these issues litigated through the Supreme Court that will hopefully provide some guidelines on what the 2nd amendment means and does not mean. Brighter lines about what the state is permitted and not permitted to regulate would be helpful. Uniform national standards would also be helpful but are likely to be less restrictive than the current ones in Mass and more restrictive than NH and Vt.

74 Pat Q. April 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Didn’t mean for the last portion of my last post to sound like a rant. Just frustrated.

75 -RM- April 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Two points…

1) How ridiculous is the thought to eliminate the 2nd Amendment?? If that were to even happen, murderers, rapists, drug dealers etc. etc.. would be the ones benefiting. When a criminal breaks into your house then, and they are ARMED WITH GUNS, what do you do then? Do you think criminals are going to surrender their firearms? Do you think Americas worst will stop making illegal guns? It would be free for all for all the people, already abusing and breaking the gun laws of this country.

2) To those making hunting out to be a crime.. you eat, right? Probably meat also? Why do you have a problem with someone hunting, and providing food for their family? Just because you buy it at a grocery store (and pay 10 times more than the hunter), does not make it wrong.

I do not hunt, nor do I own a gun, but under no circumstances do I think eliminating guns will solve crime. You can spat out fact after fact, and show me graph after graph about how less guns solves the problem. Graphs and facts are skewed by those trying to make points, on both sides.

Do I think military style weapons should be legal? No. You do not need to fire 20 bullets into a deer, nor do you need to fire 20 bullets at an intruder to defend your home and family. Guns laws certainly have room to be modified, but eliminating them is not the answer

76 Resident May 1, 2013 at 6:58 AM

Two points:

1. No one in this conversation has come close to mentioning “eliminating guns.” Nor has anyone else currently advocating for gun safety legislation done so. Jumping to that conclusion unnecessarily is what is leading to the stalemate on gun safety.

2. Who is making hunting out to be a crime? No one commenting on this topic, nor has Dr. Fazen, suggested that there is anything wrong with hunting. I have not heard anyone on the national stage even suggest that there is anything wrong with hunting. Another huge leap/assumption that is blocking the way to increased gun safety legislation.

If you can point out any comment on ths post that suggests eliminating guns or vilifying hunting, I will be happy to retract my comments.

Also, it is a fact, not scewed statistics that gund in the home result in shooting deaths of innocents much more frequently that they result in the stopping of crimes against the residents. Presence of guns in the home also result in a 100% increase in the instance of suicide.

Nancy Lanza was a legal, law-abiding gun owner. She was killed by her own son, in her own home, weilding her own weapons. He also committed suicide with weapons put in his home legally. No matter how you slice it, one plus one equals two – not three.

77 Resident May 1, 2013 at 7:00 AM

meant “skewed statistics that guns.’ Bad typing before that first cup of coffee.

78 Al Hamilton May 1, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Resident:

On April 23 Carl Guyer posted:

” We have long passed the level of reasonable behavior that justifies the rights grantred in the 2nd amendment. Gun owners need to find a solution to this problem or they will lose their rights, it is their problem.”

He has also suggested restricting/shutting down a local rod and gun club. I take these comments to mean that he is in favor of, if not eliminating the public’s right to own firearms, at least restricting them to the point of oblivion.

79 Resident May 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I’ll concede you the first sentence you quoted, but in quoting the second you are making one giant leap from wanting to close a firing range because of noise complaints in a heavily settled area and taking away guns from every gun owner in the United States.

Again, that is the kind of leap/rhetoric/hyperbole/assumption that is making reasonable discussion on this topic on the national level so difficult.

80 Al Hamilton May 1, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Resident

Carl Guyer is an intelligent and thoughtful person. I think he knows the exact impact of his proposal and that is to deprive people of their firearm rights.

Mass law prohibits the discharge of a firearm within 500 ft of a road within 500 ft of a building or structure without the owners consent. The practical result is that there are very few places in Metrowest where a private landowner could discharge a firearm even on their own property. The only practical place where a firearm owner can use their firearm in a safe place is at clubs like the one Carl wants to eliminate. Eliminate the club and you, for all intents and purposes eliminate the right.

Of course the police in the area would also not have a place to practice. Some of the noise Carl is complaining about is made by the various police depts that regularly use the facility for practice. There would also be no place for people to learn the safe handling and storage of firearms or hunter safety. I for one think there should be regular retraining required for maintaining a firearms license. I think we can all agree that since we are not going to do away with firearms we need to have facilities that instruct people in the safe use and storage of said firearms.

So, I don’t think it is hyperbole to suggest that eliminating a rod and gun club is a step to limiting peoples second amendment rights. It is just this sort of relentless chipping away that causes firearms owners to put their backs up at even “reasonable” firearms laws.

Let me turn the tables. What sort of tangible 2nd Amendment protections would you be prepared to enshrine in law in return for Universal Background Checks or Magazine Limits. Remember, sweet words mean nothing. Personally I would be willing to enshrine 30 round magazines or license reciprocity or a prohibition on outlawing so called “assault” weapons. If you put any of these things on the table I think the NRA would be irrelevant and we would have taken a huge step in effectively limiting firearm violence.

81 Resident May 2, 2013 at 1:15 PM

I believe we should “enshrine” as you put it, a group of highly experienced judicial professionals whose sole job it will be to hear and adjudicate the cases of any citizen or group of citizens who feel that a law passed by legislators for any purpose violates any of their rights as granted under the Constitution of the United States. In this way the subtleties of such laws and the ever changing needs of our culture can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis as real-world and not hypothetical conflicts arise.

Oh that’s right, we have one of those, and it is called the United States Supreme Court.

All Constitutional rights have limitations imposed upon them and no law is beyond reinterpretation and refinement as the times require. I would not indefinitely “enshrine” any compromise on gun safety just to pacify a small bunch of gun-toting conspiracy theorists or the money-grubbing gun industry. Nor would I ever support taking away a citizen’s right to bear arms in a way that does not limit another human being’s unalienable right to –among other things – life. In the list of unalienable rights; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life comes first. That wording is not an accident.

82 anonymous please May 1, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I believe most people breaking into houses are not armed with guns – they are coming to steal your stuff not kill you. There are differences in jail time for breaking and entering vs. unarmed robbery vs. armed robbery. Most criminals are well aware of these sentencing differences and depending on what they are trying to accomplish may or may not have guns. The problem is not criminals running around shooting people for no reason – it is INSANE people shooting people for no reason.

83 Matthew May 1, 2013 at 11:40 PM

I don’t actually see where Carl says we should close the rod and gun club. I think I suggested it indirectly more than he did and to suggest he did without a clear quote is inappropriate. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I just don’t want too much exaggeration.

I bought my house almost nine years ago after visiting it several times and never hearing the gunshots in the distance or the speeding semi’s coming down Parkerville or the illegally exhausted Harley that was yet to be purchased across the street. So the times and neighborhoods change and what should we do?

The sound of firearms are more frequent on the weekends I think so I missed them when we here to visit our future home. There were also other reasons we bought our house here on the “southside”, but no matter what the situation or environment I don’t know when or why I should have no basis for complaint.

Why can’t I complain Al? Please tell me why my voice doesn’t count in your eloquent world?

I am about to inherit a few firearms from my fathers estate and I will get all the licenses and training necessary to legally own them. That does not mean that I will join the NRA and start hunting, although I do eat meat and my kids even know enough about our world so that they know why we avoid extruded chicken and questionable meat products – NO McDonald’s ever!.
While it also does not mean I am against people owning guns, I DO believe that we should be able suggest limits to certain liberties that are reasonable.

Don’t start quoting Ben Franklin on me, I know about giving up freedoms, BUT I do not think that we have sufficient reason to take up arms against our government that we need the magazine capacity of the marines. And if we do then there should be enough people left on the internet to tell us how to augment our firearms to their maximum efficiency if we haven’t already done so.

84 Al Hamilton May 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Matthew

My point was more or less along the lines of Caveat Emptor. Assuming you purchased your home in the last 60 years the existence of the rod and gun club was no secret nor was it a secret that its members lawfully discharge firearms at the facility. That is its intended purpose. A pre existing use creates a powerful property right.

I believe it was up to you, as a buyer, to do the proper due diligence if you desired to live in a place where you would not hear a firearms lawfully and safely discharged. If you think that fact should have been disclosed to you then that is a matter between you, your broker, and the previous owner.

That is the basis of my comment on regarding no basis of complaint.

By the way, the Southborough Rod and Gun Club is one of the few places where you can receive the proper training to qualify for the license you will need. NRA membership is not required.

85 Carl Guyer May 2, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Well, it is nice to see there are many who have read my posts in opposition to the existing gun ownership rights as they exist in America today. To be quite frank, there will be a time in the not to distant future that will look upon gun ownership in the same light as slave ownership. The “legal” gun owners in America are the supply chain for criminal gun possession, no doubt there. Assertions about personal protection and hunting ring hollow in the 21t century. Anyone who thinks they can stand up against a modern military with their small arms is naive. Times have changes and so should the Constitution.

86 Pat Q. May 6, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Just can’t help but point out the double standard here in my effort (and others here) to find a voice in this gun debate. In some of my earlier posts I have been accused of vitriol and being overly emotional which is apparently quite unacceptable to some folks who have different views than myself. One even posted “Meaningful discourse cannot be achieved while emotion is allowed to trump critical thinking”.

The NRA convention in Houston this weekend was not without its share of “emotion” (and that’s putting it lightly):
Giant flaming red signs hanging from podiums and stages stating “STAND AND FIGHT”,
Rick Perry in a video shooting an AR-15 while pounding, loud rock music played and him, at the end, striking an aggressive pose with his gun, Glenn Beck making references between Mayor Bloomberg and Hitler, and Jim Porter (the new NRA leader) stating that Obama seeks “revenge” on gun owners and openly vowed that as an organization the NRA will “continue to fight any compromise on gun control legislation in congress”.

My favorites were LaPierre shouting “we will never surrender our guns!”, convention speaker Rob Pincus advising keeping gun safes in children’s bedrooms for home defense and, of course, Sarah Palin’s usual smarmy tactics.

Really?

87 John B May 6, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Don’t forget why we have maintined the right to bear arms. We would probably still be a colony of Britain.
Improper use of automobiles kills. Perhaps we should do away with cars. Of course people were killed in accidents during the horse drawn age.

88 Kelly Roney May 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Auto safety is, of course, heavily regulated, and that regulation is the reason death rates have ebbed dramatically over the past 50 years, despite the fact that we still have cars (more of them) and drive more miles.

89 Publius May 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The obvious point being that driving is not a constitutional right as amazing as that sounds. A few quote polls without bothering looking at the data. Positive answers to vague questions are one thing, support for specific restrictions on rights entirely different. Most polled are also in favor of reducing crime.

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