I am responding to Jerry Avalos’s recent critique of my Jan. 9 letter on gun control laws. I am not an “anti-gun” person. I believe that citizens have the right to bear arms. However, since Mr. Avalos repeatedly described my letter as deceptive and misleading, I am compelled to set the record straight.
Mr. Avalos suggested that my comparison of gun deaths in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and California was incorrect because I used “skewed” data from an anti-gun organization. He claimed that California’s gun murder rate is higher than that of Wyoming and Nevada based on FBI data. I couldn’t find any FBI data to verify his claim. However, data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics (a non-partisan government agency) confirms my original statement. Using 2017 data (the most current data), the gun death rates of Nevada (16.7 deaths per 100,000 persons), Wyoming (18.8 deaths per 100,000 persons), and Idaho (16.4 deaths per 100,000 persons) are more than 50% higher than that of California (7.9 deaths per 100,000 persons).
I wrote that approximately 36,000 people are killed with guns every year. Mr. Avalos said this number is deceptively high because it includes suicides and self-defense shootings. However, I never said that this statistic applied only to homicide victims. I had no intention to inflate the number of homicide deaths. Mr. Avalos jumped to that conclusion.
Mr. Avalos misrepresented my comparison between homicide rates in the U.S. and other “comparable high-income countries with more restrictive gun control laws.” Mr. Avalos put words in my mouth by saying I deceptively claimed that the U.S. “leads the world in annual gun deaths.” His comparison of our country to Venezuela and Mexico was not applicable to my point.
In closing his letter, Mr. Avalos noted that shootings occur despite the existence of gun control laws. I agree with Mr. Avalos that gun-related violence is a symptom of a more complex problem that gun control alone cannot fix. Nevertheless, reasonable gun laws must be part of the solution.