Guns are not widely available to school students

I don’t normally respond to letters published in the paper, but I cannot let the statement published in the Gazette’s March 3 edition, titled “Fewer guns will fix school shootings,” go unchallenged. The writer stated that: “The real cause of this disaster is the widespread availability of semiautomatic weapons and the lack of restrictions on who can purchase them. Middle and high school-aged children, especially those suffering from mental illnesses, should not be able to walk into a store and easily purchase a deadly weapon.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Current gun laws prohibit any person younger than 18 from buying a rifle or shotgun. The law further prohibits any person younger than 21 from buying a handgun. Given those facts, no middle school-aged children can legally purchase a firearm in any store and very few high school students would be old enough to legally purchase a firearm.

I would submit that there are multiple causes for the number of school shootings in recent years and simply making it harder for law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms will not solve the problem. A simple review of the failures of local, state and federal agencies related to the latest tragedy in Florida identifies plenty of areas needing improvement. Fixing deficiencies in the current NICS database and the background check process would be a relatively easy place to start. Dealing with mental illness, the excessive use of drugs on school-aged children, lack of responsible parenting and the general social decay in this country will be much more difficult.

James N. Edwards

James City County

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