A Republican congressman brushed off the nationwide push for stronger gun laws yesterday by drawing a corollary to matchsticks and lighters. In an appearance on a local news show in northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) explained his opposition to any new gun safety measures:
BARLETTA: I support the 2nd Amendment rights. Sam, to make the argument that the gun is the problem would then lead you to believe that if we banned matches and lighters, that we would stop arson. That’s not the problem. The problem is much deeper. It’s a problem with society.
Of course, the number of murder victims who died from arson is a minuscule fraction of the number killed by guns. According to the FBI, 74 people died from arson in 2010; 8,775 died from firearms.
Barletta is also setting up a strawman argument to impede any progress on modernizing our nation’s gun laws. Nobody on Capitol Hill is talking about “banning” guns and nobody is saying any law would completely eradicate gun deaths. What is being discussed is strengthening gun laws in order to reduce the number of people killed by guns every year. Over 30,000 people were killed by guns in 2010 alone.