Gun background checks
We appreciate the Las Vegas Review-Journal noting our research in an editorial on expanded gun background checks (“Background noise,” Sept. 15 Review-Journal). However, we would like to correct the record regarding what our Chicago offender interviews indicate for gun policy.
The editorial board concludes, “Regardless, as has been shown many times, criminals are not going to follow any gun control law.” This is plainly not the case — by similar logic, there would be no reason to have any laws. We doubt the editorial board of this newspaper would take a stance against legal prohibitions of burglary, domestic violence or drunken driving, just because those prohibitions — like regulations on gun transactions — are sometimes violated.
In fact, our research indicates that criminals are very much influenced by existing gun laws. Background checks and other laws deter most offenders from purchasing guns from gun stores, despite the obvious advantages of doing so. Those who are determined to obtain a gun often attempt to do so by searching for someone they know personally who might have one for sale.
The Review-Journal editorial claims that the obvious conclusion from our study is that expanding background checks would have no effect on the criminal acquisition of guns. In fact, no such conclusion follows from our study, which was designed from the beginning to focus on those who, one way or another, had been successful in obtaining a gun. We know from other research that many offenders in Chicago are unable to obtain guns when they want one, in part because their social networks do not include people with guns for sale.
We agree with the editors that gun store background checks are not sufficient to combat gun violence. Requiring a background check for all gun sales would alter the incentives facing potential sources of guns to criminals. Other studies have found that such universal-check requirements are effective in saving lives — not 100 percent effective, but effective enough to be worthwhile.
Philip J. Cook
Susan T. Parker
The pope and refugees
With regard to the refugee crisis, I have a great idea for Pope Francis (“Pope asks parishes to host migrant families,” Sept. 7 Review-Journal). Instead of railing at Western leaders for not taking in more migrants storming the borders of their sovereign nations, why not open the gates of the Vatican and welcome the migrants to St. Peter’s Square? Why not haul in a bank of port-a-potties, set up soup kitchens, install tents and lean-tos, and provide cots and entertainment right there in the shadow of the great basilica?
This is how you show your great compassion. Open your own city, open your own gates, and share your own food and material goods. Yelling at others to do what you yourself will not do is the height of hypocrisy. After you have led by your shining example, you can ask others to step up. Until then, please do not presume to lecture others on their compassion, when you have shown none that would be of a cost to you in the same way.
Dodging the draft
I am not necessarily a Donald Trump supporter, but I find George Haushahn’s letter disingenuous, as he calls into question Mr. Trump’s lack of military service during the Vietnam War (“Trump and the military,” Sept. 21 Review-Journal). Apparently, Mr. Haushahn has forgotten President Bill Clinton’s shenanigans to avoid being drafted when his number came up. I wonder if this is just another example of the double standards so prevalent in politics today.