Friday, December 01, 2006

Professional anti-gun-owner in Philly Paper

Daniel Webster, noted anti-gun-owner researcher, has had one of his LTE's published in the Philly Daily News:
Letters | Dear John: Gun laws can help, too

IN A RECENT column, John Baer quoted me in reporting that Philadelphia will be using new state funding to step up enforcement of laws against illegal possession and sales of guns.

I share his support for it. Deploying police in areas with high rates of shootings to look for illegal guns has led to dramatic reductions in shootings in other cities. Research has shown that efforts focused on gun traffickers can reduce the flow of new guns to criminals.

While praising this initiative, Baer argues that attempts to reform the state's gun laws to make it difficult to traffic guns to criminals are a "waste of time and political capital" because the state legislature has historically been pro-gun. But Pennsylvanians do not have to choose between rational reforms in its gun laws and better enforcement of current laws. Both are needed.

Police and prosecutors will be better equipped to combat illegal guns if the state adopts commonsense laws like licensing handgun owners and one-gun-a-month purchase restrictions. Most gun owners support laws designed to keep guns from criminals, and efforts that make citizens safer from gun violence are usually political winners.

Daniel Webster, Co-Director

Center for Gun Policy and Research

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore, Md.

Webster seems to be a fairly competent professor, but from what I have seen over the years he is really a mediocre authority on existing gun laws and what is needed to combat criminal misuse of firearms.

Here is a response I sent to the Philly Daily News:
Re: Daniel Webster letter of Nov. 30
Noted anti-gun-owner researcher Daniel Webster wrote that he believes the "licensing" of Pennsylvania handgun owners will assist prosecutors and police in combating crimes involving illegal handguns. Webster's "licensing" undoubtedly refers to a system of mandatory background checks on the license holder, since, logically, the only rational purpose of licensing is to ensure the pre-screening of prospective gun owners for disqualifying factors.

Webster should therefore be happy to note that in Pennsylvania since the 1940's, every person who wants to buy a handgun from a gun store, or from anyone other than an immediate family member, must first submit to state police background
check before they may take possession of the handgun. After 1993, this process was expanded to include an additional FBI background check.

If both of these background checks come back clean, information on the buyer and his or her handgun is then recorded in a handgun owner database that Pennsylvania law enforcement may peruse whenever it is needed.

I am sure Webster will now be relieved to learn that Pennsylvania already has a system of "licensing and registration" of its handgun owners.

A staffer called me this AM and said they may run it . . .we shall see . . .


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