Letter to the Editor: Urge Chris Gibson to support expanded background checks

Dear Editor:

In early April, we met with our Congressman, Chris Gibson, asking him to take positive steps to address the disease of gun violence that contributes enormously to the U.S.A.’s violent death rate running some 5-to-10 times higher than other First World, leading economic nations.

This disease poses a risk to public health not only via headline-grabbing mass shootings but the daily, almost mundane body count. Victims of domestic abuse shot in cold blood. (A John Hopkins University study concluded that “intimate assaults with firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than non-firearm assaults.”) Inner-city youth fatally caught up in crime. (Two-thirds of guns recovered from crime scenes in New York, which has strict gun laws, originate from out-of-State.) Suicide victims whose potentially impulse desires prove instantly permanent. (Suicide attempts with a gun have an 85% fatality rate; attempts via pill overdoses just 2%, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.) In 2010, two-thirds of the U.S.A.’s 16,000 homicides and half its 38,000 suicides came via the barrel of a gun, figures out of proportion with the rest of the free world.

Congressman Gibson gave us an hour of his time, and was cordial and respectful, which we appreciated. We were disappointed by his fatalistic statement that he didn’t “see anything out there that would work,” but when we asked for his support on the bi-partisan Manchin-Toomey Bill then working its way through the Senate, he did assure us that “background checks is something we can look at.”

Despite overwhelming public support, a minority of Senators representing a smaller minority of the population filibustered the Manchin-Toomey Bill. Fortunately, an identical bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by one of Representative Gibson’s fellow New York Republicans, Pete King. At this time of writing, 178 Congressmen and women have signed on as co-sponsors. Chris Gibson is not among them.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released May 23 stated that fully “Two-thirds of all Americans say the Senate did the wrong thing in blocking the [expanded background checks] proposal, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents in agreement.” We therefore encourage you to contact Representative Chris Gibson and ask him to sign on as a co-sponsor of the King-Thompson bill, H.R.1565. Your opinion can be taken at Representative Gibson’s offices in Washington (202 225-5614) and Kingston (845 514-2322). He can be contacted online at his web page, http://gibson.house.gov/contact/.

An expanded background checks law will not cure the disease of gun violence by itself, but if it can “ensure criminals and the mentally ill are not able to purchase firearms,” its stated goal, the type of daily gun deaths we mention up above will surely be reduced. Additionally, it will show that American politicians are willing to do what they are elected to do – enact legislation to protect the American people.

Tony Fletcher, Mount Tremper

Nick Alba, Shandaken

Marybeth Mills, Big Indian.