I was disturbed to read T.J. Parmeles attacks on Abby Spangler, the founder of Protest Easy Guns, in his recent letter, Local Mom Misses Target (Letters, January 15). While not so subtly suggesting that Ms. Spangler is a liar who has misled the media and the public, Mr. Parmele has himself offered a great deal of misinformation with no valid source.
For starters, the ATF has never stated that less than 2 percent of all firearms used in crimes come from private sales. To the contrary, in a 2000 report entitled Following the Gun, the ATF found that gun shows are the second leading source of illegally trafficked firearms in the United States. All told, the report identified 22,508 firearms that had been illegally trafficked by unlicensed sellers over a two-and-a-half year period. The ATF said that private sellers range from individuals who knowingly sell guns to criminals from their personal collections to interstate gun runners buying guns to sell to gangs and drug organizations (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearm Traffickers, Washington, D.C., 2000, p. xi, www.atf.gov/pub/fire-explo_pub/pdf/followingthegun_internet.pdf). Regarding gun shows specifically, the report concluded that, ATF gun show investigations show that prohibited persons, such as convicted felons and juveniles, do personally buy firearms at gun shows and gun shows are sources of firearms that are trafficked to such prohibited persons. The gun show review found that firearms were diverted at and through gun shows by straw purchasers, unregulated private sellers and licensed dealers. Felons were associated with selling or purchasing firearms in 46 percent of the gun show investigations. Firearms that were illegally diverted at or through gun shows were recovered in subsequent crimes, including homicide and robbery, in more than a third of the gun show investigations (Following the Gun, p. 17).
Mr. Parmele also makes the odd suggestion that because Seung-Hui Cho was able to legally purchase his handguns from licensed dealers after the courts failed to forward his Order for Involuntary Admission to the Virginia State Police, we therefore should not be concerned about totally unregulated private sales that involve no background check on buyers whatsoever. This logic completely evaded the Virginia Tech Review Panel, which recommended requiring background checks on all private firearm sales in Virginia, whether they occur at gun shows or elsewhere. In the panels words, In an age of widespread information technology, it should not be too difficult for anyone, including private sellers, to contact the Virginia Firearms Transaction Program for a background check that usually only takes minutes before transferring a firearm (Virginia Tech Review Panel, Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007, Report of the Review Panel, p. 76, http://www.vtreviewpanel.org/report/report/13_CHAPTER_VI.pdf).
The claim that Ms. Spanglers organization is anti-Constitution is also totally off-base. Mr. Parmele apparently hasnt read the Supreme Courts recent opinion in the Second Amendment case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Writing for the five conservative justices in the majority, Justice Scalia stated in no uncertain terms that, The Courts opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms (District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller, June 26, 2008, p. 2, http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-2901.pdf).
Finally, Mr. Parmele curiously failed to reveal his affiliation as an officer with the Virginia Citizens Defense League (http://www2.vcdl.org/cgi-bin/wspd_cgi.sh/vcdl/sendmail.html?RECID=145197), a group that opposes all gun control laws, however reasonable.
Ladd Everitt,Director of Communications
Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence