Springfield, MO

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Letter to the Editor: City leaders should research facts around legal gun ownership

Posted online

Dear editor,

I would like to respond to the Springfield Business Journal online post on Dec. 6, (and printed Dec. 12), reporting the Springfield City Council 2023 legislative priorities regarding violence, namely gun violence, in our city. As a firearms owner, and as a law-abiding citizen, I was disturbed by the sentiment and statements made by Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams and seeming ignorance by city administration. At the Oct. 3 City Council meeting, Chief Williams, in reference to law-abiding, legal gun owners, stated, “There’s no need to be carrying (guns) around because it leads to bad things.”

This would be like me stating: “When there are lots of police officers around, it leads to bad things.” While I can make this ludicrous statement, it holds very little validity without some factual data to back it up. 

My example statement, and the statement made by Chief Williams are no different – both quite absurd, particularly if one takes only a moment to research actual facts. To Chief Williams’ statement, I would point to the analysis released in 2016 by the University of Pittsburgh, which found that less than one-fifth of all gun crimes are committed by lawful gun owners. Further, numerous studies provide data that since 1980 when constitutional carry laws – the right to carry a concealed firearm without a permit – were enacted by several states, the homicide rates and violent crime rates have actually dropped. 

Yet Williams continues to peddle this false narrative that good citizens in Springfield are somehow contributing to increased violence. He has made numerous public statements to City Council like this one in the past while not referencing meaningful facts to back up this rhetoric.

Even more troubling is that this narrative of law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional rights being a problem is that it comes from a position of authority, attempting to influence our elected officials by way of preposterous statements.

Regarding violent crime in our city, it should be noted that over 2,000 Missouri inmates were granted early release in 2019. In 2020, Illinois released nearly 4,000 inmates early, including 64 convicted of murder. In all for 2020, over 100,000 inmates were given early release from state and federal prisons. 

Criminals break the law, not law-abiding citizens. Blaming law-abiding citizens for the failures of our criminal justice system might be convenient for some city leaders, but it is certainly not the solution to combating violence within our city. 

—Jason Gaynor, Springfield


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Well said. If law abiding citizens did not carry guns, only criminals would be armed. The writer sited a study that showed gun violence went down where constitutional carry laws were enacted. There have been many. The higher percentage of citizens that are legally armed, the lower the violent crime rates. That is a fact that has born the scrutiny of scientific studies over and over again. I would challenge those who disagree to present legitimate studies supporting their opinion. It's too bad when leaders ignore facts to support a political narrative.

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