The gun statistics speak for themselves

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Australia made major changes in its laws in 1996 after a rampage in Port Arthur. Automatic and semiautomatic weapons are prohibited. Gun owners are required to demonstrate a “genuine need” for weapons. The homicide rate there, too, is many times smaller than the U.S.’s. Japan only allows shotguns, air guns and guns used in competition or research. Japan requires mental and physical tests for gun holders.

At this very moment there is a race going on between New York state and the rest of the country to be the first state to pass tough new laws. We should hope that whatever is approved in Albany will be effective, and begin to address the issue of how to better monitor the sale of guns in this state and restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines.

The Connecticut tragedy has softened the thinking of legislators who are fiercely in favor of gun rights. Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, announced last week that he would support measures restricting high-capacity magazines and that he favors enforcing more rigorous requirements for background checks.

It’s not my job to make the final arguments for stronger gun laws. They are being made every day around this country, with reports about shootings of police officers and injuries of innocent citizens at the hands of shooters who’ve never undergone an inquiry of any kind into their capability to own and use firearms. The current flu epidemic will disappear in the spring, but the illegal gun epidemic will be with us all year long.

New and tougher gun laws will not harm legitimate hunters, who don’t need anything other than a good rifle to stalk their prey. And maybe, just maybe, a few more innocent people will survive to lead a useful life in our state and country.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?

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