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Editorial: Maine Needs Restrictions on Guns

Maine Sunday Telegram editorial (.pdf file)

AFA Member Responds...

Dear Editor:

I read with interest Nancy Grape's comments about the assault weapons ban and domestic violence. Hers is a thought-provoking article and I would like to comment.

Domestic abuse (or domestic violence if you prefer that term) is a serious problem. I use the term abuse because I consider mental and emotional terror to also be very serious, along with physical violence. My heart goes out to all victims.

More reports of domestic abuse do not necessarily mean that the problem is escalating; it may well mean that more people are willing to report it. There are no real criteria available to determine if there is more or less abuse than thirty years ago because we do not know how many instances in the past went unreported; but women and children are learning that they do not have to live with it. More reports (and arrests, if you will)
may mean that we (as a society) are successfully exposing this problem and creating less tolerance for it.

It appears that Ms. Grape is under the impression that the federal assault weapons ban reduces domestic violence in Maine. Although she lists numerous shootings (a couple of which were domestic but most were not, and some were just firing a gun with no victim) including an all-encompassing 153 incidents in one paragraph, I can not find any reference in her editorial where an assault weapon was used in any domestic incident in Maine whatsoever.

The name "assault weapon" is misleading, coined by gun control advocates during a successful campaign to label at least some firearms as "bad". This name is close to the military's "assault rifle", referring to a selective fire (semi-auto, burst, and/or fully automatic) rifle used in combat. "Assault weapon" refers to cosmetics. Guns on the banned list are not assault rifles in function but do resemble them; they have flash suppressors, bayonet lugs, etc that do not make them any more deadly. The same guns on the list without these appurtenances are currently legal to purchase and own.

I don't particularly like the term "assault weapon" but it has caught on so I'll use it for clarification.

The mechanical workings of a semi-auto assault weapon differ little, if any, from those of a semi-auto hunting rifle; the gun fires a bullet each time the trigger is pulled. Assault weapons are no more deadly than hunting rifles. Actually, odds are that the hunting rifle has better ballistics.

While it is true that a growing number of police chiefs are signing on to support the ban, it must be noted that most hold political administrative positions. Officers in the field generally oppose the ban. One national police organization supports the ban but has not polled its members regarding the ban. Independent polls indicate that roughly seventy-seven percent of all police officers in the field oppose more gun laws. Perhaps I
can clarify this: the majority of police officers in the field that deal with crime and violence, these men and women that are prepared to risk their lives at any given moment to protect the public, opposed and do oppose the assault weapons ban.

Reference to Dr. McAfee's anecdotal statement regarding one terribly disheartening incident as an example of all domestic violence in Maine is misleading at best. I find it hard to believe that over three thousand women in Maine had guns held to their heads last year. There is a national law that prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm. We have background checks that enforce this law. Some claim these laws can be circumvented, but if an individual disregards current laws what makes one believe he will obey a new law?

If I remember correctly, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence was initially, and may still be, funded by out-of-state interests, although monies may come through certain Maine corporations. Their primary agenda is to take guns from Maine citizens. A statewide assault weapons ban is just the beginning of a process of erosion. The statement "this is not something hunters need to be concerned about" is the equivalent of "trust me". It's a very short step from "assault weapon" to "semi-automatic hunting rifle with detachable magazine" and so on. I'm certainly glad that our Maine Legislature is wise enough to see that there is no advantage to this type of law.

I should mention that last year the national Center for Disease Control released a review of the nation's gun control laws - including mandatory waiting periods and bans on certain weapons - that found absolutely no proof they reduce firearm violence.

The Congressional Research Service found that: ".data from the tracing system may not be appropriate for drawing inferences such as which makes or models of firearms are used for illicit purposes." Reworded: there are no "criminals guns of choice".

Maine is working hard to reduce the number of drunken drivers - not by banning alcohol or cars but by getting tough on offenders. Ms. Grape's statement "-an arm's reach away when alcohol boils rage into violence-" should lead the intelligent reader to consider alcohol abuse as the primary component. Alcohol doesn't mix well with cars, guns, or horses, and it certainly doesn't help in a potential domestic abuse situation. However, it is the abuser that should be punished, not all citizens.

I am sure that I have given the impression that I own at least one "assault weapon". I do not own an assault weapon, although there are a couple on the list that I am sure would be particularly suited for hunting in these Maine woods. In truth, I must also admit that I do not own a semi-auto hunting rifle; my rifles have levers and bolts. So, if I don't own an assault weapon, and don't have one high on my list of wants, what would I have to lose by banning them? Plenty.

I'll leave you with this: earlier this year Presidential candidate John Kerry voted in favor of giving the Attorney General power to ban "certain" ammunition, including the 30-30 caliber which is probably the most popular in Maine. Don't let anyone tell you they' re not after the hunting rifles: they're just not after them yet.

Ted Bean
Charter member of Armed Females of America

Waldoboro, ME

Nobody Wants to Ban Your Deer Rifle Either

"Another rifle caliber, the 30.30 caliber, was responsible for penetrating three officers' armor and killing them in 1993, 1996, and 2002. This ammunition is also capable of puncturing light-armored vehicles, ballistic or armored glass, armored limousines, even a 600-pound safe with 600 pounds of safe armor plating.
It is outrageous and unconscionable that such ammunition continues to be sold in the United States of America. Armor-piercing ammunition for rifles and assault weapons is virtually unregulated in the United States. A Federal license is not required to sell such ammunition unless firearms are sold as well. Anyone over the age of 18 may purchase this ammunition without a background check. There is no Federal minimum age of possession. Purchases may be made over the counter, by mail order, by fax, by Internet, and there is no Federal requirement that dealers retain sales records."
--- Senator Edward Kennedy, New York (February 26, 2004, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, Congressional Record, (Pp. S1634-5)