As America braces for a new wave of attacks from self-inspired, disenfranchised or radicalized extremists, Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of Ulster County, in the quiet Hudson Valley, has gained attention by calling for citizens to carry legally registered firearms to deter mass shootings [“Sheriff’s gun advice,” News, Dec. 6]. A call to arms is not the answer and is irresponsible folly.
The 14 people killed and 21 wounded in San Bernardino were attaked by a husband-and-wife team who used legally purchased weapons. Christopher Harper-Mercer shot and killed eight fellow students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October, using some of 14 weapons he purchased legally.
Restrictive gun laws must be put into place, similar to those in New York City and Washington.
Handgun, rifle and shotgun ownership must be limited by caliber, mechanism and magazine capacity tailored for hunting and target shooting. Limits must be placed on how and when a firearm can be purchased and transported. Background checks, verified proof of need, and a 30-day cooling-off period must be in place before taking possession. Weapons must be registered and ownership must be clearly stamped on enhanced driver’s licenses.
Equally important, New York needs to legislate mandatory penalties and strict sentencing guidelines for criminals caught illegally possessing or using firearms.
The deranged gun buff Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, three years ago today in Connecticut, should have been the catalyst for change. When will we get it right? Guns kill people.
Nicholas Casale, Hopewell Junction
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired New York City police detective and a former deputy director of counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.