I’m writing regarding the June 15 commentary, “Learning to live with assault weapons.” I’m once again disappointed, but not surprised, that the News-Post has chosen to print an obvious anti-gun hit piece only weeks after a very similar article was printed doing the same thing. The targets of the articles in both cases is the AR-15 and a specific federal judge.
Judge Roger Benitez of California has ruled that California’s ban on AR-15s is unconstitutional. He has in the past also made favorable firearm rulings which are all being appealed by California. No surprise there.
The thing about most anti-gun pieces is that the vast majority are long on half-truths, falsehoods, and/or complete omissions of facts so as to bolster their anti-gun position, and short on facts. The writer says Benitez’s decision, which indicates that laws of this type would be no different than the government entering your house to seize you or your guns – as if this doesn’t happen now. Red Flag laws are already a perfect example. Nowhere in any of them is the Fourth Amendment considered. So, the judge is right to be concerned.
There were many confusing or misleading numbers in the commentary, so to set the record straight, I offer the following: According to the FBI, in 2019, there were a total of 13,927 homicides in the U.S. — 10,258 of them were via firearm. Of these homicides, rifles of all types (not just ARs) were used in 364 of them. Further, 600 were via personal weapons (hands, feet and fists), 1,476 were knives or sharp instruments, and 397 were blunt objects. I hope this helps to clarify exactly where this “weapon of war” fits into the firearm homicide statistics.
One other important clarification I’d like to make regarding firearm related “deaths” as opposed to firearm related “homicides.” The anti-gun community often, if not always, includes firearm related suicides in the same conversation with firearm related “deaths,” and they don’t bother to separate them from homicides. The very simple reason for this is that of all firearm related deaths each year, approximately 66 percent are consistently suicides. When included, this presents a much larger, and more dramatic, number of deaths. For example, an accepted number of “deaths” each year is 35,000 and to drop 66 percent of that number, leaves a much smaller (still unacceptable) number of firearm-related homicides. Let’s just talk facts.
Former Mount St. Mary’s basketball coach Jim Phelan, who died on June 15, was a great basketball coach who never got all the recognition that he deserved. Years ago Phelan should have been selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the ultimate honor for a basketball coach.
He won 830 games, more than many members in the Hall and still has the ninth most wins by a college coach. He won the NCAA College Division championship in 1962 and was named National College Division Coach of the Year. His teams made 14 NCAA Division II Tournaments and two Division I Tournaments. I don’t know why he isn’t in the Hall. It’s probably because he coached at a small, rural school that didn’t receive a lot of publicity. He apparently didn’t have the high profile contacts to help get him in the Hall.
People don’t realize just how much this man accomplished by himself. During the early portion of his career, he continually won in basketball despite also coaching baseball, teaching classes and being the school’s athletic director. Unlike today’s coaches, he did not have a number of assistant coaches to help him out. For years, he was a one-man show. For many years, the team played in antiquated Memorial Gymnasium, a facility that would hardly impress recruits. But he managed to recruit good players and he won with them.
As a former sports editor of the News-Post, I got to know Jim and his family well and always enjoyed my time with them. Jim was a good and humble man. He loved his family and Mount basketball. He never sought the limelight in his 49 years at the Mount. He deserves to be in the Naismith Hall of Fame. He deserves to be recognized for all he did.