Letter to the Editor: Gun Legislation

"Throwing a bit of light onto the hot controversy surrounding prospective gun control legislation."

Dear Susan:

I'd like to submit this piece in hopes of throwing a bit of light onto the hot controversy surrounding prospective gun control legislation.  It would seem that the terminology itself is confusing...both by intention and through ignorance.  Since I am professionally engaged in the firing range industry, I'd hope that my advocacy might have some purchase...at least with those honestly confused and not ideologically rigid.  

LETHALITY (not appearance) is the real gun issue. Semi-automatic and automatic weapons are military and police tools. They were designed to kill the enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible. Any distinction is academic between Semi- and Automatic weaponry. "Conversion kits," readily available on the grey-market, easily can reconfigure a semi- into an automatic weapon.

Definitions: A SEMI-automatic weapon automatically ejects the spent cartridge and automatically rechambers the next bullet. But you must pull the trigger for each shot. A fully AUTOMATIC weapon (ex: AK-47, Browning M2E2, UZI,  HK-417) does all of the above, plus it will keep firing as long as you pull and hold the trigger, until the magazine is exhausted. (By the way, only Automatics are true "assault weapons." I wish our legislators would get their terminology straight.  They leave a loophole large enough for the NRA's Wayne LaPierre to slither through!)

Neither style weapon — nor its accoutrements (30 > 50-round magazines, 100-round drums, unjacketed or hollow-point bullets, stockpiled ammunition -- have any business in the hands of civilians. (If one wants to outfit themselves with such an arsenal, I suggest they join a WELL-REGULATED Militia — as detailed in the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution)...the Marine Corps, the Army infantry, the Seals, Delta Force, the Virginia National Guard, or any big-city police SWAT team.)

For self and property protection, competitive and recreational target shooting, the hunting, skeet, and trap sports — a well-trained gun owner has no need whatever for semis- or automatics. These guns — because of their inherent lethality — have become choice Weapons of Mass Destruction for unstable mass murderers.  They should be banned outright to the civilian gun owner community. Yes...that may well harm a very profitable part of the arms industry. So be it. 

Just as important, the ATF Bureau must grow some teeth, backbone, and two more private parts. Their "regulation" of the gun trade, reporting requirements, background checks, etc. is a sick joke. They — and a supine Congress — make one wonder: for whom do they really work?

This note might appear that I'm anti-gun. Far from it...I'm in the business of supplying ballistic rubber media to firing ranges. This material safely encapsulates the fired projectile and its byproducts; lead dust, ricochet shrapnel, back-splatter.  Many new and renovated ranges now are opening to provide live instruction in responsible gun ownership and to train owners to qualify for open-carry permits.  I totally support both goals.

Jesse Clear, Owner/Principal
Rubber Mulch Is US LLC

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Raconteur January 02, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Definitions: You got it right, then blew it with the parenthetical BS. Selectable semi/automatic fire, with a light to medium power round, is the main characteristic of an assault RIFLE. There is no military definition of "assault weapon". It is a fiction of the gun control advocates (Josh Sugarmann) to confuse the ignorant into thinking they are machine guns. “Neither style weapon — nor its accoutrements (30 > 50-round magazines, 100-round drums, unjacketed or hollow-point bullets, stockpiled ammunition -- have any business in the hands of civilians.” You are aware that police are civilians? Upon what great work of fiction do you derive your conclusion? Scenario/Question: 5 armed toughs invade your home. You have an AR 15. How many rounds of ammo do want to have in your rifle? If you have a pistol, again, how many rounds do you want in the magazine?
Raconteur January 02, 2013 at 06:24 PM
“…I suggest they join a WELL-REGULATED Militia — as detailed in the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution)...the Marine Corps, the Army infantry, the Seals, Delta Force, the Virginia National Guard, or any big-city police SWAT team.) Look up the definition of militia and search on it in the Constitution. Read about militia in the Federalist Papers. You won’t want to make that ignorant statement again. “For self and property protection, competitive and recreational target shooting, the hunting, skeet, and trap sports — a well-trained gun owner has no need whatever for semis- or automatics.” See Scenario/Question above. What a stupid statement. Two rounds will be enough in an armed home invasion by 4-5 toughs? You must be one hell of a shot. “They should be banned outright to the civilian gun owner community. Yes...that may well harm a very profitable part of the arms industry. So be it.” So you want to disarm the police? By the way, are you going to come get mine? Yeah, you’ll be right behind Sarah Brady. Brave guy.
Raconteur January 02, 2013 at 07:10 PM
"It should also be noted that the "The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America." paper was produced under the PRECONCEIVED AGENDA DRIVEN auspices of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health." Fixed it for ya' ;o)
Cheryl Darby January 02, 2013 at 09:21 PM
A tyrannical government? Does that mean any government that doesn't adhere to the radical right-wing ideology. The 2nd Amendment was written in the infancy of this country. The framers were not so sure how a democracy would work. Even though it's sometimes messy, democracy is better than any other system. To have people in this country stockpiling weaponry to use against a "tyrannical government".chills me to the bone. We had one Civil War in this country. We surely can learn to at least tolerate other views. We don't need to arm ourselves against our own neighbors.
Cheryl Darby January 02, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Apparently, the part about maintaining a militia goes right over your head. We don't need to do that now, but some people in this country have decided it's going to be run by their rules. This is insanity. Freedom doesn't mean you can do whatever you choose and tomhell with everybody else. There are a numbermof people in this country who do nothing but rail against what they deem to be curtailment of freedom. If giving up assault weapons could save lives, giving up a little freedom seems a fair tradeoff to me. Some may have become accustomed to the slaughter going on with regularity in this country. I have not.
Cheryl Darby January 02, 2013 at 09:33 PM
I have never heard any mention of a "tyrannical" government until Obama was elected.
Jesse Clear January 03, 2013 at 04:00 AM
Well Mr. Raconteur, you're quite a story teller (in French as well?) Let's take your diatribe from the top. ♦ “Semi-automatic and automatic weapons are military and police tools.” You may recall that the 2nd Amendment was designed and conceived in the era of musketry. Are you saying that the Founding Fathers would have approved anyone/everyone to amass their own private armory? ♦ "When I use my guns for defense, they are for stopping the threat, not killing anyone." I admire your restraint. When my daughter was mugged at throat knifepoint in Baltimore ... she did shoot to kill, with my full approval. The mugger survived ... barely. While I was out of town, my wife was confronted at 9:30 pm with suspicious knocks at the door. Her Mossberg Mariner 12-gauge would have made mincement of (as it turned out, two missionaries full more of religiosity than good sense). They too survived the experience. Do NOT preach to me about armed self-defense. ♦ Had you fully read my original letter and the 35 comments following, you'd have seen that its theme was the overwhelming LETHALITY of armed mass murderers. (Or have you forgotten already the massacre at Newtown CT? ... only one other respondent even mentioned it). So you're little game, semi- vs auto-, at the 300 meter range doesn't wash in this discussion.
Jesse Clear January 03, 2013 at 04:02 AM
♦ "....reconfigure a semi- into an automatic weapon.” Wrong again. Have you ever heard of a bump-fire SlideFire Stock®? No? I can convert a Bushmaster into a near M-16 in 20 minutes. If you've got 386 bucks + shipping, you've got a near-automatic. (ATF has declared it 'legal' since the stock recoil itself, instead of your held trigger finger, does the deed. No Class III required. Our Talmudic BAFTE hard at work again!). By the way, don't try filing the sear -- 2 milimeters too deep and you end up with a blown breech with lots o' shrapnel. ... And you're preaching ILLEGALITY to intending mass murderers? ♦ "There is no military definition of "assault weapon". It is a fiction of gun control advocates". There I agree with you. But it's not a contrived "Fiction;" rather a chronic "Confusion." ♦ "You are aware that police are civilians?" Quite ... as are Breach Teams, SWAT, fire-fighters, and others who put their lives on the line for us every day. And they are the folks who truly NEED automatic shotguns and other arms at least equal to the thugs and other misfits who readily get them at private sales, from craigslist ads, from car-trunk salesmen, from straw buyers .... or steal them from mommy or daddy.
Jesse Clear January 03, 2013 at 04:05 AM
♦ Speaking (again) of "militia" -- well-regulated and not -- please give a careful reading of the entire correspondence. By the way, since you seem not that enthusiastic about my proposal to join a Real Militia, let's compare: I'm a triple veteran: USN / Koren War era; US merchant marine / Vietnam; US Foreign Service, / '69 to '95. What's yours? ♦ "By the way, are you going to come get mine? Yeah, you’ll be right behind Sarah Brady. Brave guy." You seem like a pretty tough Hombre yourself ... challenging an individual to come take your toys away. Sorry pal, I'm crazy but not stupid. Take off your tinfoil hat and don't squint for the UN black helicopters. No-one is going to take your guns away -- UNLESS you become a felon, show a history of domestic violence, mental instability, or a streak of civil disturbances. Then, my friend, AUTHORITY will come knocking at your door. And you will answer meekly and respectfully. If you stay clean -- and don't issue implied threats over the internet -- you'll be just fine, and you'll continue to enhance my business. ♦ Finally, just curious...... What, if any, gun-related regulation, WOULD you accept?
Doug Peterson January 03, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I've met a few "Triple Veterans" (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) whose service dates from about 1940 - 1970. I admire those guys. Some were just getting ready to retire from the USN when I joined in 1965. You probably met a few too.
Russell Ramsey January 03, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Jesse, selling rubber mulch for bullet traps does not qualify you as a gun professional. And your mulch sales are the only qualifying background you claim. Your letter is littered with inaccuracies and short sightedness. I retired two years ago after serving for more than 30 years in the Marine Corps so I did join a real militai. I'm 100% disabled with 90% from combat and I can tell you there's a monumental difference between semi-automatic and full automatic. Perhaps you should lead a house clearing CQB team in Afghanistan with just a semi-auto rifle while everyone else has the option of full auto and then tell me there's no difference. I use my AR-15's for competitions, hunting and recreational shooting all the time and so do millions of other honorable sportsmen. Your claim to be a firing range professional does not make you a weapons or tactical expert. You're also severely out of touch with today's shooting sports such as Three Gun competitions, Camp Perry nationals or how millions of people use AR-15 rifles chambered in 5.56 for varmint hunting and AR-10's chambered in 7.62 for competition & big game hunting as well. Hopefully, since you're not a weapons expert you'll follow your own advice about not being "ideologically rigid."
Jesse Clear January 04, 2013 at 05:29 AM
RUSS RAMSEY ... Jesse here. Thank you for your edifying note. ♦ First, I thank you for your service and combat experience ... while you neglected to thank me for mine. Second, had you closely read the original letter and following correspondence -- at no time did I ever present myself as a "weapons or tactical expert"... that's clearly your department. Third, the ENTIRE THEME of this effort has been to remember the unspeakable tragedy of mass murders in this country; committed by deranged punks who get their hands on lethal weapons, often legally, through loopholes in the regulations ... or by outright theft from careless owners. ♦ You are yet one more commentor who seems blind to the overwhelming tragedy of Newtown CT ... and earlier catastrophes at San Ysidrio CA - McDonalds, Columbine CO - high school, Aurora CO - theater, Fort Hood TX - Army base, Tucson AZ - shopping mall, Lancaster PA - Amish school, Virginia Tech, Binghamton NY - immigration center, Oak Creek WI - Sikh temple ... shall I continue?
Jesse Clear January 04, 2013 at 05:31 AM
♦ Now I will ask you: WHAT, if ANY gun-related regulations would you support? Regarding your detailing of combat necessities and defense of legal shooting sports -- I totally agree with you on all counts. But that is not the issue here. The issue is the dire necessity to absorb the REALITY (listed above) that evil and degenerate Monsters should have NO access to firepower whatever. But law-abiding gun aficionados -- such as yourself -- seem terrified that our own government plans to confiscate our weaponry. The NRA leadership feeds this frenzy with their "ideologically rigid" stance against any and all regulation. This must and will change. The major thrust will be to cauterize the gaping Private Sale Loophole. ♦ Do not try to shoot the Messenger ... just heed the Message.
Raconteur January 04, 2013 at 03:08 PM
You are proud of your service and probably should be. I am a Nam combat vet and was in the 1st Gulf war. I don't talk my military experiences with people that I don't know, respect, or REMF "warriors". However, I do happen to have an additional 38 years of RDT&E with the Navy. From the 16" guns on the Iowa class to 5” guided projectiles, to special weapons for the SEAL Teams and Marines. Including designing circuit boards for a Mars probe. I hold 14 patents on weapons systems, including 2 on the 20MM sniper rifle. Your Kevlar mat catchers sound cute. Try designing a system to catch a 60MM tungsten penetrator from an EM gun at 35 megajoules, in 100 feet. I was integral to the team that successfully designed, built and fired a 350lb.,157MM naval gun barrel with carbon as its primary structural material. I have designed, built and tested weapons that you would say are impossible. I have evaluated many of those "in the field". As to what regulations I would accept on arms? The 2nd Amendment as written and intended by the Founders, is the only regulation needed. If a person cannot be trusted with arms, then they cannot be trusted in society. Controlling the insane and criminal is not gun control. You have obviously not read the scholarly treatises on the 2nd Amendment rights (both sides). I do get belligerent and offensive at times, especially when people attack and propose limiting constitutionally protected rights from a stance of self-righteous ignorance.
Russell Ramsey January 04, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Jesse, my miss, thanks for your Naval and foreign service. But please, let's be clear about your opening remarks... you made a specific point to tell us you're "professionally engaged" in a firearms related industry then you stated you hoped your work with gun ranges would hopefully provide the necessary "purchase" to educate those who are "honestly confused and not ideologically rigid." You even tried to educate us (inaccurately) about ammunition.... so you clearly positioned yourself as enough of an authority on military, para-military, guns and ammo to tell all of us who needs access to which weapons, ammo and why. If the "ENTIRE THEME" is truly how to keep guns away from deranged zealots then I'm all for that discussion. People commit these crimes not guns. I never negotiated with a single weapon when I was in Afghanistan... I always talked to people about their actions and how we could improve their security. But before you point a finger at the NRA for causing a frenzy with their ideological rigidness you should look at your own comments. You stated gun attacks are, ".... unparalleled for lethality. Sad but true." No, that's not true. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people without a gun. And the worst mass murder of school children in our history happened on May 18th, 1927 in Bath, Michigan when Andrew Kehoe killed 45 people, 38 children, with a bomb. A second timer failed or it would have been worse.
Russell Ramsey January 04, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Jesse, I challenged your comments about weapons and their usage because that was the focus of your original letter. So I take great offense to your comment that it seems I'm "blind to the overwhelming tragedy in Newtown CT." What a horrible assertion. I'm a father of four, have escorted teenage kids home from combat to their parents and final place of rest. That was heartbreaking. I've seen people mangled on the battle field and put friends into body bags. I've always cherished the sanctity of life everywhere and think I've proven that fighting for our country. I'm all for mandating private gun sales be transferred through an FFL holder which requires a background check. That's common sense, IMHO. Perhaps we should also explore requiring various levels of training to buy certain weapons? Dunno, just a thought. But our number one issue is better safety nets in place for those in need of mental health care. Now, in addition to telling me I'm indifferent to the Newtown shooting you also say I'm "terrified that our own government plans to confiscate our weaponry." Please, you don't know how I feel. But to address your point.... there have been plenty of lawmakers saying they want to take our weapons so confiscation's not a farfetched concept for gun owners to be concerned about. And even review your original letter to the editor.... you said no semi-autos for anybody but police and military. My bottom line is... please don't punish me for things done by crazy people.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Tony Sheffield's claims are totally unsubstantiated. There is not a single word in the papers or debate of the founding fathers suggesting that the Second amendment was designed to protect against a tyrannical government. That is a very modern day invention. Second, the Amendment by its terms refers only to "well-regulated" militia. It is entirely clear that a ban on automatic/semi-automatic weapons would be fine under the Second Amendment.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:21 PM
It is, in fact, now possible to own and get a permit for, a fully automatic weapon. However, the cost and difficulty of getting a permit make it very little used.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I appreciate your thoughts. I am not sure what your linguistic distinction is intended to convey, but I do think that would be an important step towards reducing the number of guns in the country, and the resultant number of deaths. Given the vast number of guns alreaady in the hands of private persons (legally and illegally), it would not as a practical matter be possible to have any total civilian disarmament (if that were considered useful) but steps to prospectively improve the processes would be quite valuable.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:31 PM
As a general rule, you are better off without a gun. A study shows that a victim of an attack is 4 times as likely to be shot and 4 times as likely to be killed as an unarmed victim. And if thearmed victim has a chance to try self defense with a gun, he/she is 5 times as likely to be killed. Just something to think about. Oh, and the powerful police weapons are, as the author states, normally reserved for special units, such as SWAT teams. They are not carried by the majority of police, even ignoring the vast difference in training.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:36 PM
The mass killings are not the real issue, as they are a miniscule part of gun murders and gun deaths. The 22 who died in Newtown were just over one-fourth of the people killed by guns avery single day (on average). And do you really believe that these assailants could have killed 22 people with a machete? The most I am aware of is 11, by A highly trained individual. It is clear beyond debate that the Second amendment is NOT the only permit that you need. even the expansive reading of the Second Amendment by 5 members of the Supreme Court explicitly acknowledges that reasonable regulation of gun possession is perfectly proper under the Second Amendment. And it is very likely that a future change in the Court's compsoition will restore the interpretation of the amendment to what virtually everyone, including the founding fathers, thought it was.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:39 PM
First, these mass killings are not the real issue, they are only a miniscule part of gun homicides and gun deaths. Kids remain safer in school than walking to or from school, or playing at their own house or park. And if you do not think that we can significantly reduce the number of illegal guns, at least going forward, then you know little about the issue.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Eric Hennessy. Your citation disproves your argument, as it refers both the regulated militia -- e.g., the NAtional Guard, and the unregulated militia. The Second Amendment refers only to the former -- the "well-regulated" militia. In any event, the reference in the Second amendment is to well-regulated STATE militias.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I have read the complete Federalist Papers and the debates regarding the Second Amendment, and am also familiar with the actual events in the early years of the nation -- when many states/cities substantially regulated guns and the federal government took a census of gun ownership. It is quite clear that the Second Amendment is not a blanket approval for citizens to own guns, and even the 5-members of the supreme court explicitly acknowledged that fact, saying that reasonable regulation of guns is fully consistent with the Second amendment.
Eric Jeffrey January 04, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Not true. It is quite clear that when gun murders go down, so invariably do total homicides. So very few people are in fact switching to other weapons. That eliminating/regulating guns would not eliminate the issue 100%, does not mean that we should not take steps that would make a significant reduction.
Jesse Clear January 07, 2013 at 05:31 AM
All interested: I'm bringing this thread to an end -- at least my own participation in it -- but I encourage further thoughts and commentary. First, I'd like to thank my Supporters for their inputs. And I'd especially like to thank my Detractors ... because you have sharpened my understanding of your positions, contributed valuable insights, and enhanced my resolve to approach this issue in a calm and reasonable way. More about that later. First, to my Supporters: May I offer a few admonishments ... ● Do not embrace the fuzzy Utopia of a "gun-free America," that never will, and never should, happen. ● As many detractors have noted, the vast, vast majority of gun enthusiasts are normal law-abiding citizens who inhabit those recreational or hunting cultures ... of which you happen not to be a part. ● Please don't fall for the scarecrow of ambiguous and ill-defined Assault Weapons ... because they "look scary." ● Also, don't fall for the "mental health" maze. This classifies mass murders as "victims" of their affliction. Rather, we must concentrate on BEHAVIOR signposts. Phony psychiatric "diagnoses" have let assassins, such as John Hinkley Jr, almost completely off the hook. Or consider the squalid and on-going soap operas surrounding Jared Loughner's and Nidal Malik Hasan's "treatments."
Jesse Clear January 07, 2013 at 05:34 AM
(cont'd) ● And please be aware that armed self-protection, in our day and age, is a vital concern (I speak from personal experience). While you may shrink at the thought of handling guns (vs getting qualified instruction in their safe use), please tell me YOUR alternative -- when your family or home falls under immediate and violent threat? But please read on -- I count upon your support. Now, to my Detractors: While I contained my enthusiasm for the tone and attitude of much of your commentaries (ex: "Elmer Fuddery"), I did glean valuable insights from them. ● Many of you have noted the lethality of bombs, knives, machetes, automobiles, even the abortionist's scalpel. True enough. But actually, you side-step the sad fact that the GREAT majority of killings -- whether day-to-day street violence, serial, revenge, or mass murders -- are committed with gunfire, by criminals, drug or alcohol infested minds, or deranged creeps. You are willfully blinding yourself to this reality. ● Please do not succumb to the mass hysterias of "Gun Confiscation," US government "Tyranny," or any other scarecrow that the NRA or other Second Amendment zealots may throw in your face. ● Yes ... I do consider NRA leadership to be the prime obstacle to REASONABLE gun legislation. David Keene and his front-man, Wayne LaPierre, have thrown up a stone wall of opposition to ANY change in legislation. This must Stop ... and they must Go.
Jesse Clear January 07, 2013 at 05:39 AM
(cont'd) ● Finally, please remember that I'm just the guy who keeps the back-splatter and ricochet out of your body and the lead dust out of your lungs. I do know my way around range construction, renovation, and furnishing -- as you know your way around the technicalities of weaponry and ammunition. ===================================== Within the next few days, I wil submit a petition to the new Gun Violence Prevention Task Force which will call for certain common-sense and reasonable changes in gun law, regulation, and enforcement. Its primary elements will include: ♦ Immediate closure of private gun sales exemption from individual registration (the most glaring loophole of them all). ♦ Enforce the enforcers. BATF has a truly miserable record in this prime responsibility. Establish effective oversight on this agency. ♦ This one is sensitive, but the most important of all. Starting from childhood through adulthood, we must set Behavioral Signposts which can be noted and tracked. Such behaviors as torturing small animals for pleasure, chronic bullying, death or injury threats of any kind through whatever media, extreme social isolation, repeated attention by police or judiciary for civil disturbance, domestic violence, child abuse. Many of these behaviors preceded and could have predicted individuals who showed capacity and intent to commit violence. Tragically, such dots have ever been connected.
Jesse Clear January 07, 2013 at 05:42 AM
(cont'd) ♦ Require that ALL gun owners re-qualify every year or 18-months by certified range training in accuracy, safe storage, and crisis behavior. (The Second Amendment conveys Responsiblities as well as Rights. This is one way to honor those responsibilities.) ♦ Institute a national gun and ammunition sales data-base (to identify suspicious frequency, quantity, and timing of buys and sells). ♦ Encourage the real value of responsible gun ownership, periodic training and updating. Recognize appropriate weaponry for recreational, hunting, and self-protection. We owe at least this much to the Newtown CT massacred children and their teachers ... and all the thousands of other gunned down victims across America, whether by criminals, drunks, dopers, or unhinged monsters in human form. It's clearly true that "guns (alone) do not kill people" .... but entirely too many guns are in too many wrong hands. To identify and incapacitate those hands -- that is our true mission.
Mac Smith January 07, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Thanks Jesse! We may agree and disagree with some (or all) of what you have written, but you did a good job of supporting and explaining your position. Well done.


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