Letter to the Editor & my response


September 3, 2004, 10:15 AM
The local paper published a letter recently arguing to renew the AWB. I've drafted a response, but would welcome any critique before I send it. The article and my response are below:

Here's the article (http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/neighborhoods/stories.nsf/southwestcountyjournal/columns/story/A05F09D67C107A3C86256F0000714505?OpenDocument&Headline=Letters+to+the+editor%3A+Renew+ban+on+automatic+weapons)

Here's the text:

Letters to the editor: Renew ban on automatic weapons

updated: 08/30/2004 03:51 PM

To the editor:

If the president and the congress do not act now, the 10-year-old federal assault weapons ban will expire on Sept. 13. If that happens, these deadly killing machines will return to the streets of America just as our children are returning to school in our community.

How can this happen? The Senate voted in favor of renewing the ban earlier this year, but opposition from President Bush and the National Rifle Association kept the underlying bill from passing. A recent poll of ten states by the Consumer Federation of America and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence found widespread and diverse support for the ban. Every major law enforcement organization and nearly 900 police chiefs from across the country support the ban.

Since 1994, the year the ban went into effect, child and teen deaths from firearms have dropped 50 percent. Overall, gun deaths have dropped nearly 25 percent. Still, we have a critical firearms problem. Child and teen death rates from firearms are higher in the U.S. than in twenty-five other industrialized nations combined. Every three hours, a child or teen dies from gunfire in our country. And now semi-automatic weapons will be returned to our streets.

Congress has only five legislative days scheduled in September before the ban expires. President Bush and Congress must act quickly to renew this commonsense law and protect our children.

Tracey Stanton


Here's my response:

The letter published in the September 1st Journal under the heading “Renew ban on automatic weapons” highlights several misunderstandings about the federal “assault weapons” ban:

First, the heading incorrectly suggests that the ban affects automatic weapons. Those who can’t distinguish automatic firearms from semi-automatic need to educate themselves before entering the debate on this legislation. This law has nothing to do with automatic firearms, and the editor of the Journal shows either ignorance or a will to mislead by publishing the letter under that title.

Second, the writer of the letter claims that if the ban expires, “these deadly killing machines will return to the streets of America”. In truth, the arms affected by the ban are usually less powerful than the common deer rifle, and a semi-automatic deer rifle functions in exactly the same way as a military-patterned rifle. This law has nothing to do with how deadly the arms are, but only with whether or not they look scary. In fact, the only things the law bans are certain cosmetic features. The “banned” rifles themselves have been legally available to purchase since the ban went into effect - only with certain cosmetic features removed. They won’t “return to the streets of America”, because they never left.

Some would argue that for the reasons listed above, the ban should be made more restrictive. However, the author of the letter points out statistics showing that “child and teen deaths from firearms have dropped 50 percent”, and “Overall, gun deaths have dropped nearly 25 percent”. She doesn’t point out that studies have shown that “assault weapons” were involved in a statistically insignificant number of gun crimes to begin with. Clearly, this law has no impact on the statistics cited. The law is a useless piece of legislation for which there is no justifiable reason for extension, renewal or expansion.

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September 3, 2004, 10:20 AM

I wish I could so eloquently state the same to the bleeding heart liberals who write commentaries in my local paper.

As far as I'm concerned, America will become safer once that legislation dies.

September 3, 2004, 10:28 AM
Very nicely done. I might switch the order of the final two sentences of your second paragraph to zero in on the fact that the AWB has nothing to do with automatic weapons, but it reads fine the way you wrote it too.

Thanks for reminding me that it is time to get writing here, too.

September 3, 2004, 10:29 AM

You have a way with words that I wish I had. That was a very good responce.

September 3, 2004, 10:29 AM
Good job. Also point out that firearms death had already been on a decline even before the AWB took effect.

September 3, 2004, 07:42 PM
Let us know if it actually get's published, my guess is they'll move on or print some more pro-"automatic weapons ban" articles...

September 3, 2004, 08:15 PM
IIRC, the senate didn't exactly vote to renew, wasn't it a bit more complicated than that?

September 3, 2004, 08:53 PM
They tacked it onto the Lawsuit Preemption bill as a poison-pill. I think most of them voted to add it knowing that it would get the LP bill shot down.

Standing Wolf
September 3, 2004, 09:08 PM
Well said, although I've got a hunch there's too much factuality in your reply for the paper to deal with.

September 15, 2004, 09:44 AM

Thanks to all who responded. I really wasn't looking to get my ego stroked, but I appreciate the kind words. Anyway, the paper (St. Louis Suburban Journal, not St. Louis Post-Dispatch, although they are linked on the web site) published my letter - to my surprise.

Here's the link (http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/neighborhoods/stories.nsf/southwestcountyjournal/columns/story/9218EB0B69C3EFB886256F0F005F3B8E?OpenDocument&Headline=Letters+to+the+editor%3A+Assault+weapons+ban+misunderstood)

September 15, 2004, 10:00 AM
:cool: - Nice work!

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