In three of the last five editions of the Dispatch you (Keith Hansen) used your column to write about gun control. As I (Dick Peterson) see the issue, it is about a number of issues for which two options can be stated in terms of good vs. bad? Or right vs. wrong? These items are:
DP: President Obama’s decision to implement some changes in policies on gun control. (Still unknown.)
DP: Mandatory universal registration.
KH: While federal law provides for registration of all guns sold by retailers, it does not have a provision to register guns sold at gun shows or private individual sales. However, most criminals do not buy their guns from a retailer or private party — they steal them or buy guns that have been used in other criminal activities.
DP: Mandatory background checks regarding restrictions for those with criminal or abnormal mental health records.
KH: Again, criminals do not buy their weapons of choice legally. Further, in situations like Newtown, Conn., the son of a legal weapon buyer used the gun to shoot the legal gun owner (his mother) and then slaughtered 26 innocent people.
DP: Restrictions on rounds per loaded gun (magazine sizes, etc.).
KH: Magazine size has some merit, but states that have these restrictions in place, like California, have a problem. Criminals, e.g. drug dealers, do not buy these magazines from the local sporting goods store, they buy them from other illegal businesses.
DP: Prohibition of citizen ownership of rapid-fire, semiautomatic high velocity weapons.
KH: It would be difficult to enforce. Most deer hunting rifles and .22 caliber rifles are semi automatic. Both are considered high velocity. Both are used by men and women who find the semi automatic easier to use, either because of a person’s size, or ability to handle a bolt action or lever action rifle. Most bolt action rifles have a capacity of four bullets and one in the chamber and the same tends to hold true for semi automatic rifles. Lever action rifles may hold more cartridges. Capacity varies with each gun.
DP: Restrictions on gun-violence movies and video games.
KH: I agree. Video games that promote violence must be restricted. Movies are often violent to the point of being absurd. However, Hollywood has the support of this administration and most of the House and Senate. Don’t look for a willingness on the part of the far left Hollywood crowd to curb the violence they show on the big screen or on television.
DP: With regard to these points, you have not given a clear plus vs. minus opinion that I am aware of. Implicitly, this means you (and the paper) are for the status quo and against any change. This is OK in some sense, but it means that you and I differ. Does it mean all these changes will make for big reductions in gun deaths in a few years or even a decade? Given all the guns and gun traffic, legal and illegal, we now have hidden on U.S. premises, no. But to take no stand is to admit we are a nation that lives more by “In guns we trust” than by “In God we trust” and “Under God” slogans so dear to the right wing. The murder of 20 children and six teachers just “goes with the territory.” Let’s at least admit the hypocrisy in much of this “pro-life” and “pro God” rhetoric.
DP: In Sundays’ edition you wrote about Stewart Mills’ demonstration of a buck-shot 12 gauge shotgun vs. a .223 cal. rifle. How is this relevant to the item above?
KH: It took over 15 seconds to fire a .223 with accuracy at a target, but it took only 5 seconds to fire a shotgun at the five targets. (Mills’ response to Rep. Rick Nolan’s comment.)
DP: In all the city and school playgrounds, outdoor high school sports fields, summer camps with congested waterfronts, etc., how does any shotgun compare with the killing potential of an assault weapon with a scope site from 75 yards for some person bent on killing?