I want to offer some points augmenting Bill Richardson’s demolition of gun restrictions (“Banning assault weapons will make us safer, AFN, Feb. 20).

Massacres at schools, theaters, shopping malls. So far, these have been committed by juveniles and young adults who were psychotic or clinically depressed. They all left trails of evidence of mental illness over periods of months and years. Dad, mom, pay attention and take it very, very seriously.

Stopping massacres at schools. If nothing else, when each class period begins, close the classroom door and set it to automatically lock from outside and open from the inside. When the school day begins, lock the main doors from the outside. Install voice, video and remote control of outside door locks. Read “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill,” by Dave Grossman.

Columbine. All of the murders’ guns were illegally in their possession: 2 12-gauge shotguns, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, and a 9mm (pistol round) semiautomatic carbine. In addition to the firearms, the Columbine murders had 2 5-gallon gasoline bombs, many pipe bombs, and dozens of homemade shrapnel grenades. Miraculously, all of the bombs they activated failed to detonate.

Perpetrators of violent crime. Crimes related to drugs (buying, selling, using, obtaining the means to buy) and crimes related to gangs (there’s a lot of overlap) account for an estimated 85 percent of violent crime. If only they had known that it was illegal to use a gun in the crime.

Assault weapons, so called. Nationally, crimes involving an assault weapon accounted for somewhere between .25 percent and 1.4 percent of crimes involving a firearm (www.gunfacts.info).

Gun restriction and violent crime are 180 degrees contrary to gun restriction logic. From the 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Report, for all practical purposes, Washington, D.C. has a complete ban on guns and also has a rate of violent crime that is three times that of Arizona not withstanding the all but unlimited access to guns, ammunition, magazine capacity, and legal concealed carry. Illinois and California both were 8 percent above Arizona. States with liberalized (“shall issue”) concealed carry policy (background check, test of basic skill and law) have a rate of violent crime that is 4 percent below states with more stringent policy (“may issue”) or a ban on concealed carry.

Just for the record. Approximately 80 percent of people shot with a gun during a crime survive. Approximately 80 percent who are attacked with a knife die.

Suggestion No. 1. If a new law possibly could be effective, how about federalizing all gun crime: use a gun in a crime and you go to federal prison. And assist someone in illegally possessing a firearm who commits a crime involving that firearm, and get prosecuted as an accessory to the crime.

Suggestion No. 2. If you own a gun and think for a second that you might use defensively: take nothing less than annual training in defensive tactical firearms (I take about 65 hours of training each year); and practice not less than once a month. I dry fire nearly every day and I go to the range every three to four weeks.

Suggestion No. 3. Not a suggestion, really. There is no excuse — none — for losing control of your firearms. Get a serious safe and bolt it to the concrete floor. For the bedside, get a strong box. I test my fingerprint box every night and it has worked flawlessly for five years.

James Bell

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