To the Journal editor:
As an attorney who has helped train close to 1,400 people to be able to get a Michigan concealed pistol license, I feel that I must make a response to the statements contained in Steven Pence’s guest op-ed.
1. Mr. Pence states that “a gun in the household is 18 times more likely to be used against a family member rather than heroically, against an intruder.” This statement first appeared in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993; both the methodology and the findings of that report were refuted in a law review article entitled “Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda,” by Don B. Kates, Henry E. Schaffer, M.D., George B. Murray, M.D. and Edwin H. Casem, M.D., which appeared in 61 Tennessee Law Review, in 1994.
2. Mr. Pence then states that because there are only 200 justifiable homicides per year that the use of a firearm in self defense is rare. According to a landmark study by Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University in 2004, Americans use a firearm defensively 2 million to 2.5 million times in a year. Recently, Lawrence Southwick, a criminologist, wrote in the St. Louis University Law Review that “Somewhere around 0.8 to 2.0 million violent crimes are deterred each year because of gun ownership and use by civilians. In addition, another 1.5 (million) to 2.5 million crimes are stopped by armed civilians.”
3. While it is true that the Supreme Court said that dangerous and unusual weapons could be banned, the court also stated that the Second Amendment protects arms that are in “common use” for lawful purposes. The AR-15 and other so called assault rifles are currently the most popular firearm being made in this country with 1.5 million made in 2012.
By any definition, these firearms are in common use. Nor are they uniquely dangerous. In a recent interview on National Public Radio, noted constitutional law scholar, Dr. Joyce Lee Malcolm of George Mason University stated that in her opinion an assault weapons ban would be held to be unconstitutional.