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In his Sept. 1 letter, L. Daniel Metz argues that stricter gun laws don’t reduce gun deaths. He makes two main points to support this argument, and both points misrepresent the facts.

Regarding the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994-2004, the National Institute of Justice, which Metz cites, clearly states: “Homicides committed with firearms peaked in 1993 at 17,075, after which the figure steadily fell, reaching a low of 10,117 in 1999.” Though the numbers have since risen, they are still well below pre-ban levels. This is the opposite of Metz’s claim that the ban had no discernible effect on firearms homicide.

Second, Metz points to Chicago’s homicide rate. Illinois gun restrictions are likely keeping Chicago’s homicide rate from being even higher than it is. According to Pew Research, Chicago’s per capita murder rate ranks 14th among U.S. cities over 100,000. St. Louis, which has far fewer restrictions on gun ownership, has a murder rate roughly three times that of Chicago.

In fact, Illinois’ gun restrictions are likely keeping the state’s gun deaths down, as well. In the CDC’s state-by-state comparisons of gun deaths, Illinois ranks 31st, with a gun fatality rate half of Alaska’s. More guns mean more gun deaths.

More than 33,000 Americans die every year from firearms, including suicides and accidental shootings, as well as homicides. Common-sense gun restrictions don’t just aim to reduce criminal violence. They aim to reduce all kinds of gun deaths, and the data shows that they work.

JIM HANSEN

Champaign

News-Gazette