Your Views: Misleading evidence on gun violence

Your Views: Misleading evidence on gun violence

To the editor:

The opinion article published in the July 16 edition of the Alexandria Times entitled “Thank you for gun law” was one of gratitude to city council and came from a place of obvious passion. Unfortunately, it was also filled with inaccuracies and misleading evidence.

The author began by thanking the Alexandria City Council for its recent adoption of an ordinance that bans the possession of a firearm on city property (Chapter 3 of Title 2 of the Code of the City of Alexandria, Virginia (Section 2-3-5)).

The author then proceeded to recount the tale of their presence at the 2017 shooting at Simpson Park where Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and five others were injured and concluded by noting that the rifle used by the perpetrator was purchased legally.

What the author thought this fact has to do with the ordinance adopted by city council is not clear. Indeed, it would seem that the fact that the perpetrator had legally purchased the weapon and still managed to bring it to a city park would be an argument against the ordinance the author is writing in support of.

If a man is able to legally acquire a rifle and take it to a city park to commit a mass shooting, it seems the last thing we should want to do is to limit the would-be victims’ ability to protect themselves.

The author did not stop there, however. The author proceeded to make a radical accusation that should concern all law-abiding citizens: “People with concealed carry permits are dangerous.”

They even concluded the article with an ominous line, “Guns kill, and concealed carry permit holders kill.” What evidence did the author present? On what basis did they make these claims?

The author cited three instances of a CCW permit holder committing a violent crime with a gun. What they did not tell you, however, is that none of those crimes were committed with the aid of a CCW or even with a firearm that is able to be concealed. I will break these down below:

• Jan. 19, 2010: Concealed Carry Permit Holder Christopher Speight killed eight people in Virginia.

Here, the author referenced the 2010 shooting in Appomattox, Virginia. While the author identified Speight as a CCW permit holder, he failed to mention that he used a rifle. You cannot concealed carry a rifle either practically due to size or legally within the permissions afforded by a CCW permit.

• May 5, 2008: Concealed Carry Permit Holder Aaron Poseidon Jackson killed four people in Virginia.

Here, the author referred to a domestic abuse incident turned murder-suicide incident in a Stafford County mobile home. The incident resulted in the death of Jackson, his girlfriend and two small children. A tragic event, to be sure, and one that should cause us all to pause and reflect, but one committed with an AK-47 style rifle. As noted above, one cannot practically nor legally conceal a rifle.

• Sept. 6, 2013: Concealed Carry Permit Holder Aaron Alexis killed 13 people in Washington, D.C.

The author referenced the 2013 shooting on a military base in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In this instance, the perpetrator utilized a sawed-off shotgun and a stolen handgun to kill 12 and injure three. It bears repeating that one cannot practically nor legally conceal a shotgun, even if the barrel is sawed off – an illegal modification in itself.

Any event in which a person is killed is tragic, especially when it happens with such mercilessness as the events referenced above. Every shooting should cause us to reflect on what got us to that point and what we can do as a society both in terms of legislative and societal changes to avoid a repeat.

We must not, however, allow our passion on this or any subject to justify categorical accusations or data manipulation in order to achieve the changes we seek. We should carefully consider all of the events noted here and consider if we as a city want to further limit the rights of Alexandrians to protect themselves on city property.

I will close with the following comment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) regarding the 2017 Congressional Baseball Shooting, at which he was present:

“Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that Capitol Hill police were there, and the only reason they were there was because we had a member of leadership on our team.”

Most Alexandrians do not have the luxury of a personal protection force or a Capitol Police detail tagging along with us wherever we go. With the city’s new ordinance barring all firearms from city property, what is left to stop the next mass shooting on city property?

-Conley Lowrance, Alexandria