The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

January 15, 2013

The human factor: Limiting firearms is not the answer

ENID, Okla. — As a peace officer of more than 30 years, I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of these United States and the state of Oklahoma, and I believe I have and still am faithfully discharging my duties.

Every moment of every day, peace officers respond to, investigate and enforce crimes against people and society committed by people.

We don’t charge inanimate objects with crimes, we charge people who commit evil against another.

Some of those people are in need of treatment, for some form of mental health issue, yet most are people who made their choice to commit an act depriving another of their property, rights or life.

People are held accountable, not the instruments of their crime.

If legislators want to ban or regulate inanimate objects because they are used in killings and if that reasoning is to be followed, we then need to look at limiting or banning some of the following:

• The sale of bottled or canned beer to two 12-ounce purchases a day, because 10,000-plus drunk driving deaths occurred in 2010 and between 2000 and 2010, the number was more than 126,000.

• We limit the horsepower of all automobiles, including trucks.

In 1998, nearly 42,000 people were killed in traffic crashes and almost 3.2 million more were injured, at a cost of more than $150 billion.

Speed — defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions — is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when speed limits were raised by many states in 1996, travel speeds increased and motor vehicle fatalities went up significantly on interstate highways in those states.

We could start adding tools, household chemicals and others to the mix to, yet we don’t.

Because we have extensive safety programs in place to education, place special enforcement on and work with the citizens to limit and reduce those senseless deaths.

Recent tragic events have polarized the nation, in part because our parental and peace-loving values have been violated, but also due to a competitive and relentless media, trying to one-up the other without regard to fact or the rights of victims and grieving family.

Add to the mix politicians with ambitions and hidden agendas, all creating anger, fear and conspiracy.

It is time to step back, look at the totality of the situations, and find real, meaningful answers. Looking at a firearm or bullet capacity is not the answer.

What drove those persons to commit the acts they did?

We need to be looking at the human factor, because as I said at the beginning, I can’t bring charges against an inanimate object, only the person who planned to, was in the process of or had committed a crime.

Peace officers hunt evil, which is found in the hearts and minds of humans.

I ask you to give this some thought and form your opinions from a standpoint of our rights as citizens and how we can prevent further crimes.

Niles is Garfield County sheriff.

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