Gun control: From two sides of the border

I recently commented on Canada’s Tory government’s decision to scrap the long gun registry and destroy all the data that had been collected. Although undoubtedly many farmers, hunters, and some less reputable gun owners welcome this decision, most in public health as well as many police forces, deplore it. But it seems small potatoes compared with what is happening on the other side of the border.

Yesterday (Nov 13) the NY Times ran a long piece entitled “Felons Finding It Easy to Get Gun Rights Reinstated”. One part notes that “since 1995, more than 3,300 felons and people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors have regained their gun rights in the state — 430 in 2010 alone”…. And about 13% of these “have subsequently committed new crimes. More than 200 committed felonies, including murder, assault in the first and second degree, child rape and drive-by shooting.” The courts appear powerless to respond sensibly to requests for licenses. Apparently, “judges have no discretion to reject the petitions, as long as the applicant fulfills certain criteria. (In 2003, a state appeals court panel stated that a petitioner “had no burden to show that he is safe to own or possess guns.”) It should surprise no one that the article makes clear that the NRA played a key part in bringing about this bizarre situation.

Incidentally, the photo is of Erik Zettergren who killed a man soon after regaining gun rights. As the NY Times reports, “For years, Mr. Zettergren had been barred from possessing firearms because of two felony convictions. He had a history of mental health problems and friends said he was dangerous. Yet Mr. Zettergren’s gun rights were restored without even a hearing, under a state law that gave the judge no leeway to deny the application as long as certain basic requirements had been met. Mr. Zettergren, then 36, wasted no time retrieving several guns he had given to a friend for safekeeping.

Comment: It should be obvious where I stand and where I believe this Journal stands on this and related gun control issues. But I can accept that there may be readers on either side of the border that strongly disagree. I urge them to post a comment explaining their position.

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