Letter to the Editor: “Dear Ms. Dolzonek”

The article, “America’s Obsession with Guns,” is nothing more than regurgitated, clichéd rhetoric. Dolzonek’s most grievous error is her statement that mental health is “NOT the issue” in regards to gun violence, referring to Adam Lanza and James Holmes. Ms. Dolzonek is correct when she states that these men should NOT have had access to guns, but she fails to see how their access to guns could have been prevented.

Gun control in America is NOT a clear-cut issue. Sandy Hook is evidence of this. Adam Lanza didn’t purchase the guns he used to kill 26 people, his mother did and she was not a responsible gun-owner. She promoted her socially withdrawn son’s use of guns knowing he had violent fantasies and she failed to acknowledge his deteriorating mental health. This irresponsibility proved fatal for her and 25 others. We cannot place blame solely on Nancy Lanza—but she WAS responsible for her son’s unfettered access to the guns he used.

It must be stated, that the current mental health system is lacking. In CNY, there is only one facility that houses patients under 18. This presents a major barrier to access for families. For adults, CNY’s Hutchings is one of only 15 centers in NYS, housing just 105 patients. People are not receiving the help they need—we simply do not have the infrastructure for it. When arguments for stricter gun laws fail to acknowledge poor access to mental health services, they fall flat for those who see the connection between gun violence and mental health.

Dolzonek attempts to leave us with a conclusion that will convince gun-owners to convert to non-gun-owners. Her argument falls short of succeeding to prove a valid point. She states that the “moment your right to own [a] gun conflicts with any other citizens’ right to life and safety…your right ends.”

Do you own a vehicle? Have you ever consumed alcohol? Both of these situations present threats to the safety of others, yet we continue to allow them because we trust our citizens to exercise these rights responsibly. Humans are flawed and may act irresponsibly, costing the lives of others’. Recently, a woman plowed her vehicle into parade-goers and the media did not blame her vehicle as is done with guns. There are reports that she suffers from mental illness. Why then, do we demonize firearms? Should we ban driver’s licenses and the sale of alcohol? If one cannot answer this based on pragmatism alone, let’s refer to history.

The consumption of alcohol did not halt solely because Uncle Sam waved a scornful finger at our ancestors for indulging in too much booze during the Prohibition Era. People illegally produced and consumed alcohol at record rates. Prohibition doesn’t work to solve our moral issues.

The following are statistics pulled directly from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and detail the effects of alcohol consumption. There were 29,001 alcohol related deaths [discounting homicide and car accidents] in 2013. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence [NCADD], “36 people die [daily] in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.” That’s an additional 13,140 fatalities.

Dolzonek’s statement that more young-adults die from gun violence than any other cause is false and irresponsible for The Dolphin to print. The CDC reports the leading cause of death as unintentional injury due to accidents [i.e. car accidents].

We can of course agree that gun regulation is necessary to ensure the safe ownership of items that, if in the wrong hands, may be used to commit horrendous crimes. We cannot, however, expect that outlawing guns in America will instantly solve the current issue; that is a Band-Aid treatment that will hinder the possibility of an actual solution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are safe ways to own firearms. To anyone who is lurking unsteadily between both sides of the gun control debate, know this: it is a rather “lazy” argument to assert that outlawing guns will stop this violence altogether. Stop placing the blame solely on guns, when in fact there are other key factors at play. When we stop spewing clichéd, irresponsible rhetoric, perhaps our country’s gun violence issue will be solved. Until then, arguments such as those presented in Dolzonek’s article will only continue to draw attention away from the facts and instead, towards the direction of blissful ignorance…an emotional state our country seems to revel in.

 

PLEASE NOTE: All statistics were taken from the CDC website and the NCADD website