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Gun bans are not the answer

Why is this gun legal? | April 11, editorial

Gun bans are not the answer

I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family of Paris Whitehead-Hamilton, who was gunned down by gang members. As a retired law enforcement officer working in the St. Petersburg area, I am aware of the severe problem of drugs and the proliferation of gangs in that area.

St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon has an extremely difficult job with this problem. The city's residents need to work with him in divulging the names and address of the gang members. This cooperation is the backbone in the neighborhood if this lawlessness is to cease.

You cannot blame the AR-15 for this tragedy. The person who pulled the trigger is the wrongdoer. Most of these guns are stolen by teens to trade for drugs at the request of the drug dealers. You cannot, legally, purchase this gun if you are a convicted felon, have a domestic violence record, mental disabilities or are under the age of 18. However, these and other guns are plentiful to purchase on the black market.

The gun prohibitionists state "assault weapons" are machine guns that "belong on the foreign battlefields," but that is a lie. The guns are semiautomatics, and they are not used by a military force anywhere on the planet. Gun prohibition is not the answer.

Guns that were affected by the assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004 were used in only a tiny fraction of violent crime. The answer is apprehending the gangs and drug cartels and sentencing those convicted to the full extent of the law. We need to enforce the existing laws. The Second Amendment guarantees that for law-abiding free citizens, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Nicholas Di Guiseppi, New Port Richey

Why is this gun legal? | April 11, editorial

Little things define 'assault weapons'

The giant picture of what looks like a fully automatic assault weapon is intended to provoke an emotional response. You imply that if the assault weapon ban were still in effect, this gun would not have been on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are only cosmetic differences between this rifle and rifles allowed by the 1994 Clinton gun ban. Most people can't tell the difference.

Since there is functionally no difference between the rifle in your picture and a hunting rifle, the '94 ban had to define "bad guns" in terms of cosmetic features, like collapsible stocks and bayonet lugs. Rifles sold legally after '94 removed some of these features.

You imply that if only Congress had extended the gun ban, Paris Whitehead-Hamilton might still be alive because these guns wouldn't have had a collapsible stock. That's more than silly. That's dishonest.

The question to ask police Chief Chuck Harmon is, "Why were these people, with lengthy arrest records, on the streets?"

Richard McCall, Largo

Why is this gun legal? | April 11, editorial

Tools for killers

Thank you for writing what needs to be repeated again and again until the carnage is stopped.

As we have seen in the spate of recent shootings, it takes little for a so-called "law-abiding citizen" to become a killer. Only a gun easily facilitates that transition.

According to a friend, the shooter who killed three police officers in Pittsburgh earlier this month was concerned about his gun rights. He expected a gun ban from President Barack Obama and had stated he would defend his right to bear arms. And now three police officers are dead.

Mentally challenged right-wing ideologues have been especially vocal in their paranoia about a perceived gun ban and bear some responsibility for inciting others to act in such a deadly manner.

The NRA would have us believe that "an armed society is a polite society." As we have witnessed too many times, that is simply not true. An armed society is a paranoid, violent society.

Durk Gescheidle, Palm Harbor

Defending freedom

The apprehension and punishment of Paris Whitehead-Hamilton's killers should not be conflated with the question of banning legal rifles such as the AR-15.

If the government tried to shut down the St. Petersburg Times, citizens armed with (among other things) AR-15 rifles would come to its defense. How do the editors think that they have the right to publish a newspaper in the first place? That it was just given to them with no bloodshed required?

The founders of this country made it clear in their writings (even if you choose to ignore the Second Amendment) that the main reasons to support the right of citizens to own guns are to act as a check against government tyranny and for self-defense.

As the saying goes: Free men own guns, slaves do not.

Mitchell McConnell, St. Petersburg

Why is this gun legal? | April 11, editorial

Aim at the criminals

I read this editorial and found it to be inaccurate on several counts. First, you start off quoting a police chief who, in fact, has recently been under fire for not doing enough in these communities.

Following that you identify an AR-15 rifle as a "military-style assault weapon," which it is not. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle that is used for everything from target shooting and hunting to home defense. Yes, that's right, it is used for hunting. You will not find the AR-15 in any military's arsenal as it is not an automatic or burst-capable assault rifle.

It is mentioned how the members of Congress "cower" from the NRA. Well the members of the NRA are American citizens and last I checked Congress is supposed to follow the will of the people.

Obama and his Cabinet's antigun voting history is no secret. The recent call for the assault weapon ban to help Mexico is ridiculous. The full automatic weapons the cartels are using are not readily available here in the United States. A more likely source is the corrupt Mexican army and police.

How about we focus on the persons who committed this terrible crime? Why are these gangs roaming free in St. Petersburg? Perhaps Chief Harmon should be answering these questions instead of making comments about removing our constitutional rights.

Craig C. Smith, Clearwater

Feds to pay mob hit man $150,000 April 9

This isn't right

Where do you get that "Feds to pay" stuff?! We the taxpayers will pay that bill. Why do we stand for it? When I have "an accident," I am responsible to clean up my mess. When a government official or employee does, I and the other citizens clean up his mess.

Giving $150,000 to an admitted hired killer! Did the guy who caused the "accident" get a reprimand, fined, fired — what?

There is something drastically wrong with this system.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

Gun bans are not the answer 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 7:23pm]
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