Letters to the Editor

Controlling violence

On behalf of the 120 members of the League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County, we appreciate and fully support The Tribune’s March 10 editorial opinion regarding Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s positions on controlling gun violence in America.

The local league, a nonprofit organization, in concert with the League of Women Voters of California and the League of Women Voters of the United States, advocates several positions relevant to controlling gun violence:

Oppose major threats to basic constitutional rights.

Support violence protection programs in communities.

Provide access to a basic level of care for all U.S. residents, including prevention of disease; health promotion and education; and mental health care.

Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semiautomatic weapons. Support regulation of firearms for consumer safety.

To underscore the mental health component, the local and California leagues support adequate funding for the mental health care system and comprehensive services for all mentally ill, with special emphasis on the needs of children, the homeless, prevention, and awareness for critical unmet needs.

Our local league, in 2012, held a public panel to educate about mental health issues, and it is likely we will do so again later this year. However, recent tragedies involving guns in this county have not all been from killers with mental illnesses.

The league’s position on controlling gun violence with federal legislation is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy. The 140,000 national members of the League of Women Voters have had a consensus since 1990 on this point.

Ninety-two percent of all Americans, including 91 percent of gun owners, support background checks on all gun purchases. Today, 40 percent of gun sales that take place at gun shows and in private transactions occur without the benefit of any background check.

Federal legislation is part of the legitimate mix of common-sense proposals.

Sharon G. Whitney is president of the League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County.