Local newspaper story on AWB and my response...


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Bobarino
September 12, 2004, 12:02 AM
Weapons ban should stay, many police say
LES BLUMENTHAL; The News Tribune

WASHINGTON - Monday's expiration of the 10-year-old ban on military-style assault weapons will go against the wishes of many law enforcement officials across Washington state.

"Most law enforcement agencies, including ours, believe it has been effective and would like to see it continued," said Washington State Patrol Capt. Fred Fakkema. "They are dangerous weapons and there are no legitimate reasons for people to have them."


Approved by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1994 despite opposition from the National Rifle Association, the ban applied to 19 models of semi-automatic guns, including civilian versions of Uzis and AK-47s. The ban also limited magazines to no more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and barred silencers, flash suppressors, folding stocks and bayonets.


But the ban applied only to the production of new weapons and new, large magazines. Existing ones were not covered.


Republican leaders in the House and the Senate say there are no plans to consider an extension. Though President Bush supports an extension, the White House declined to lobby Congress.


The Senate voted 52-47 in March to extend the ban. But the extension died when the bill it was attached to, which would have barred lawsuits against gun manufacturers, was blocked by Senate Republican leaders.


A new poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that 68 percent of those questioned supported extending the ban, including 38 percent of NRA members. Almost 5,000 people were surveyed.


Law enforcement officials say the ban has reduced the firepower of criminals and helped level the playing field for officers who previously found themselves outgunned.


"I can't see any benefit to people on the street having them," said Mark Fulghum, spokesman for the Tacoma Police Department. "Nothing good can come out of it."


King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, a Republican candidate for Congress in the state's 8th Congressional District, opposes extending the ban. Some in his department disagree.


"It's good they have been illegal," said Sgt. John Urquhart, who emphasized he was speaking personally and admitted there are different viewpoints among the rank-and-file. Urquhart, who has worked on the streets in both vice and narcotics, said he supports efforts to limit the use of "high-intensity weapons" by criminals and gang members.


Fakkema of the State Patrol said there might be a move to have the Legislature consider a state ban.


"We are in discussions with the governor's office," he said.


The NRA and other gun rights groups, including the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, believe the ban should lapse.


Dave Workman, a senior editor with the foundation's Gun Week magazine, said every weekend there are legitimate shooting matches in which semi-automatic weapons are used. Thousands of people shoot them competitively, he said.


"This legislation was passed during a time of great manufactured hysteria," said Workman. "Independent studies suggest the ban has done nothing to make America safer. Gun owners will be glad to see this gone. It has prevented law-abiding citizens from getting these weapons, but it hasn't prevented criminals from getting them."


While the Consumer Federation of America has issued a study saying gun makers and dealers are prepared to start selling the banned guns, gun shop managers contacted last week say they have seen no huge swell of interest.


Scott Schoffstall, manager of The Hole in the Wall in Kennewick, said most of the interest has been in the larger magazines. Prices for the older ones, which had been $70 or $80, should drop to $20 to $25 for the new ones, he said.


"It's kind of fun to stick in 25 rounds and shoot it up," Schoffstall said. "People are talking about the ban being lifted, but you still find people who didn't even know there was a ban."


"There's a little bit of interest," said Ralph Autrey, manager of Gun & Bow in Tacoma. "There's no big hoopla, we're not holding a party."


Washington's U.S. senators, Democrats Patty Murray of Seattle and Maria Cantwell of Edmonds, supported extending the ban. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Spokane), who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Murray, favors its expiration.


The rest of the state's congressional delegation is divided. Democratic Reps. Norm Dicks of Belfair and Adam Smith of Tacoma would like to see the ban extended. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Vancouver) has not decided whether he would support an extension if it came to a vote. Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Bellevue) opposed the ban in 1994.




Les Blumenthal: 1-202-383-0008
lblumenthal@mcclatchydc.com



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my response:



Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the Tacoma News Tribune's reporting on the matter of the expiration of the "assault" weapons ban. Your story is laden with inaccuracies, half truths, and outright lies which I will address in the order in which they were printed.

First you state that "many" law enforcement officials wish the ban would stay. I have no doubts this is true. However, you fail to account for the "many" law enforcement officials that see the law for what it is and support its demise. A few officials do not speak for the whole of Washington's police forces.

In response to Capt. Fred Fakkema's statement that these "are dangerous weapons and there is no legitimate reasons for people to have them" I say, Capt. Fakkema, show me where, in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights do have to show a reason for owning a firearm. Or a reason to speak freely. Or a reason vote. I do not have to have a reason other than I wish to own it. The federal and state laws support my position and Capt. Fakkema's comments matter not one whit as his duty is to uphold those laws which protect my rights own firearms whether he agrees with them or not. The state patrol is a law enforcement entity. It is not a law enforcement entity. I challenge Capt. Fakkema to produce a police report in which the assault weapons ban prevented a crime or any evidence that shows the ban has had an effect on violent crime. I further challenge Capt. Fakkema to put his biases aside and uphold ALL laws equally including my right to bear arms.

This ban also had NO effect on "silencers" as your article calls them. Sound Suppressors are not mentioned anywhere in the 1994 "assault" weapons ban and are strictly regulated by one or more of the 7,000+ gun laws already in existence.

Further, President Bush has never expressed support for the "assault" weapons ban. He said he would sign it if it was passed by the house and senate. He has never come out in favor of the "assault" weapons ban.

In regard to the Senate voting to extend the ban, once again you are intentionally misleading your readers. The Senate voted to protect the firearms industry from frivolous lawsuits. The extension of the ban was attached by Diane Feinstein in an effort to kill a law that would have protected a legitimate industry from being sued for illegal use of their legally manufactured product. Should Ford be sued when a drunk drivers kills another driver with a Mustang?

Its stories like your very own that produce the (questionable) poll results that you publish. Yours, and other biased media outlets are often the only sources of information people are exposed to, yet you shirk your responsibility of giving the facts to your readers and letting them decide what is right.

To our law enforcement officials that were supposedly previously outgunned: I again challenge you to show but one report in which officers lives were saved or a crime was prevented by the "assault" weapons ban. In case they hadn't noticed, criminals don't obey laws. Our representatives and Senators can write as many laws as they wish. To a criminal, they are worth nothing more than the paper they are written on. They will be no more well armed than they were five years ago. All of the weapons covered by the ban are still available is a slightly cosmetically changed and renamed version, but still only to those that produce identification, pass a background check and fill out the form 4473 and lay down large sums of hard earned money when purchasing.

My comments to Capt. Fakkema also apply to Tacoma Police Dept. Spokesman Mark Fulghum. My right, ability and choice to own a certain type of firearm is not, and should not be based on his ability to see a benefit. I don't see a benefit to his comments in your newspaper and I certainly don't see a benefit to his biased attitude, but I am not speaking out in favor of suppressing either. Again, the Police Department is sworn to uphold the law. Even laws they don't like. If he thinks nothing good can come of it, all he needs to do is look to the North Hollywood bank robbery and ensuing shootout where officers, who were outgunned by ILLEGALLY armed criminals went to a nearby gun shop and acquired AR-15's to combat these killers. The "assault" weapons ban didn't prevent these criminals from obtaining illegal weapons and it didn't stop the police from being able to arm themselves appropriately.

I'm happy to see at least one of your quote from Sgt. John Urquhart acknowledges that it is his opinion and his "rank and file" officers may disagree. I'm more inclined to lend more weight to the opinion of a beat cop than a desk driver. Sgt. Urquhart's use of the term "high intensity weapons" tells me right away that he has little if any knowledge of weapons. There is no such thing as a "high intensity weapon", and the "intensity" of a weapon, if it could be defined, is certainly not increased with a bayonet lug or folding stock. Only the person behind the weapon determines what its "intensity" (whatever that means) might be.

Dave Workman is right on the money. It is manufactured hysteria, which I'm sad to see the News Tribune is perpetuating, that is used to scare SUV driving soccer moms into thinking that their babies will be mowed down on the soccer fields if this ban expires. Little do they know that this ban never banned ANY type of weapon, it only banned certain "scary" features on the weapon. Even the historically anti-gun CDC admits it cannot link gun control laws to drops in violent crime. Do you really think the world is safer if I, a legally licensed owner and carrier of a firearm, am limited to a magazine capacity of 10 rounds instead of the 12 it was originally designed for? He's also correct in stating that this law has done absolutely nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In fact none of the 7,000+ laws have accomplished this either.

The Brady Center, formerly Handgun Control Inc., has threatened us with rivers of blood in the streets, "AK-47's and Uzi's flooding the streets" a thousand times or so in the last few months and as you can see from your own interviews, its a complete falsehood. The scare tactics and predictions of death and destruction, doom and gloom, are fabrications from paranoid minds. America's legal gun owners are some of the most law abiding citizens there are. We only want the respect of other people leaving our sport, our hobby, and our right to self protection alone.

The Second Amendment is not about what features a gun has hasn't. its not about needs or benefits. It is a right. Period. Just like the right to speak your mind, to vote, and the right to print what you want, however untruthful it may be.

I'll close with a quote from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and a recital of the Second Amendment. then, hopefully, your readers might better understand the rights they are slowly losing, and the rights they need to fight to protect. It is obvious that our local newspaper can only be depended upon to excercise and defend rights which suit its own agenda.

''The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.'' -- Justice Alex Kozinski, US 9th Circuit Court, 2003

"A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

very Sincerely,

Bobby

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chances of getting published are probably nil, but what the heck. i probably could have been nicer too but too bad for them. i got irate at reading it.

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PMDW
September 12, 2004, 12:09 AM
The state patrol is a law enforcement entity. It is not a law enforcement entity.

:confused:

mountainclmbr
September 12, 2004, 12:29 AM
You are using logic to fight emotionalism. You would have better odds of teaching pigs to sing.

buy guns
September 12, 2004, 12:39 AM
i think its pretty good depsite some grammar and punctuation errors.

Andrew Rothman
September 12, 2004, 12:50 AM
No offense, but have you ever read the letters page? Published letters run about two or three short paragraphs.

And again, no offense, but your letter is full of errors, and frankly only reinforces the editors' view that gunnies are iggerant rednecks.

If you must write to the editor, try to help the cause by following these general guidelines: 1) Pick a single point, 2) State it succinctly, 3) Proofread and 4) Proofread again!

Try this on for size:

In "Weapons ban should stay, many police say," Capt. Fred Fakkema says, "there is no legitimate reasons for people to have" so-called assault weapons.

The Bill of Rights does not require a reason for owning a particular firearm -- or a reason to speak freely, or a reason to vote.

These rights are all guaranteed by the Constitution -- the same constitution that guarantees you the right to print what you want, however inaccurate it may be.

Sincerely...

Rawlings
September 12, 2004, 12:57 AM
Unless your paper has its own 24-page pullout section for letters, I highly doubt you'll ever see it in print.

joe sixpack
September 12, 2004, 12:59 AM
I commend you for doing something about it! Good show.

cheers, ab

Oleg Volk
September 12, 2004, 01:22 AM
It may not get published, but you might influence a newspaper staffer. Good work!

Bobarino
September 12, 2004, 01:38 AM
i haven't sent it yet. i spell checked but didn't re-read the whole thing. i'll fix the error you all pointed out before i send it. i figure my grammatical errors are no worse than their factual ones. ;-)

that line will read, "the state partol is a law enforcement entity, not a law making entity."

thanks for correcting me on those.

Bobby

Intune
September 12, 2004, 01:46 AM
Well done. Stay the course. Every little bit helps and your heart & logic are spot on!

ExtremeDooty
September 12, 2004, 01:50 AM
I certainly applaud your effort but Matt Payne is right. Keep it brief and to the point. When you write a long letter to the editor, they reserve the right to edit it and may take out the most important points in your letter. If you want to address additional points, write separate letters and increase your chances of getting something published.

Keep in mind that people that have to read all the letters to the editor, or to your Senator, rapidly lose interest at about 3 paragraphs, especially if it is about something they don't agree with.

WhoKnowsWho
September 12, 2004, 02:38 PM
At least your newspaper didn't do an article like mine and say grenade launchers (like the type that attach to the AR-15) will be fully legal for us...

JohnKSa
September 12, 2004, 03:22 PM
Try to shorten it as much as you can--anything over a couple of paragraphs has zero chance of being published. Also read it aloud slowly before you send it in--you seem to have a propensity for omitting words.

Here's my cut. It's still too long...

Dear Editor,

The Tacoma News Tribune's story on the "assault" weapons ban is laden with inaccuracies, half truths, and outright lies.

While "many" law enforcement officials may wish the ban would stay, you fail to note that many law enforcement officials that see the law for what it is and support its demise.

Capt. Fred Fakkema's statement that these "are dangerous weapons and there is no legitimate reasons for people to have them" shows a lack of understanding of the constitution. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not require that one have a reason for owning a firearm, for speaking freely or for voting. Furthermore, it's highly doubtful that Capt. Fakkema or any other police officer can show hard evidence that the ban has prevented crime since criminals are notorious for ignoring ALL laws.

The ban had NO effect on "silencers".

President Bush has not "supported" the ban--he has merely said that he would sign the ban if it comes to his desk.

The Senate did not vote to extend the ban. The ban extension was used as a poison pill on another bill.

The end of the ban will not result in "outgunned" officers. All of the weapons covered by the ban are still available with only slight cosmetic changes. The ban focused primarily on cosmetic features, not function. Even the only function issue is overblown--is the world really safer if a legally licensed firearm owner is limited to a magazine capacity of 10 rounds instead 12?

If there is an ounce of fairness and objectivity, I expect to see an equally in depth story a year from now commenting on the absence of a "post-ban crime wave."

very Sincerely,

Bobby

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