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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

The gun lobby

AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

A federal police officer stands guard at the crime scene where a woman was killed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday, April 16. Drug cartel wars in Mexico have cost more than 10,650 lives since December 2006. More than 1,600 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez last year.

Don’t blame U.S. for Mexico’s ineptitude

Editor, The Times:

E.J. Dionne Jr.’s column, “Time to stand up to the gun lobby” [Opinion, April 21], is rife with misinformation. For one thing, there is no credible evidence that “hundreds and thousands of assault weapons” used by Mexican drug gangs are traced back to gun shows in the U.S.

Secondly, gun shows do a federal background check for each gun sold. Thirdly, guns were not the cause of the Columbine shootings — a popular anti-gun example — but were the result of the parents’ absent awareness of their children’s dark, anti-social appetites.

It is the same old saw used by the anti-gun proponents that if you take away guns from law-abiding citizens, it will somehow make us safer. Balderdash! The National Rifle Association magazine documents real cases where citizens just having a gun have protected their family or business without needing to discharge their weapon.

Don’t blame the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment for the Mexican government’s ineptitude at enforcing their own very strict gun laws. Don’t blame the law-abiding citizens for the U.S. government’s inability to control its border or enforce its existing gun laws.

— Lauren W. Pananen, Mill Creek

Stricts controls on permits can still preserve rights

I have now gone through my threshold of pain and patience in allowing the gun lobby to continue to determine public policy on gun control. Citizens arise.

As E.J. Dionne Jr. noted in his column, it is time we stood up to the gun lobby. We cannot blame Mexico solely for poor law enforcement over the drug cartel when we supply from our country the assault weapons (as well as the demand for the drugs). This month, we memorialize Columbine and Virginia Tech and have more recent memories of gunmen gone berserk in Alabama and New York and elsewhere.

We can do something about this and still preserve hunting rights and the right to defend property. You do not need assault weapons for that activity. We need bans on the manufacture, distribution or sale of these weapons, and strict control on who gets a gun permit. We have a right to demand our government provide that protection to our citizens.

Images of Charlton Heston as Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and also promoting the NRA do not work for me anymore. I am starting a new organization to force the NRA and the politicians who are beholden to it to come to the table of reason to solve this problem and to protect our citizens, and perhaps innocent ones outside our borders, while still preserving the rights the NRA seeks.

Who will join me?

— Milton C. Smith, Seattle

Second Amendment as valuable as First

I cannot help but wonder if The Seattle Times has somehow taken upon itself a duty to misinform. E.J. Dionne Jr.’s opinion piece was full of factually incorrect information and visually inflaming but uninformed language. I expect more from my news source.

He tries to paint the picture of assault weapons pouring across the Mexican border, when in fact only about 18 percent of firearms confiscated by the Mexican authorities can be traced to the United States. That’s right, the 90 percent statistic that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have you believe is creative license in the use of statistics.

Dionne would have you believe that these firearms have gotten there through lax U.S. firearms laws. However, in most if not all cases, the firearms were illegally transferred.

What I really don’t understand is that our Bill of Rights give each of us the right to keep and bear arms, much like it gives Dionne freedom of speech. He speaks strongly that our Second Amendment rights should be ignored. Would he speak so strongly about his First Amendment rights?

— Earl J. Brigham, Seattle

Rights come with responsibilities

The NRA has two different views about guns. There are those who believe we have the right to own guns while others believe we have the right to profit from owning guns. The NRA in my youth was not a lobby and it had no interest in gun sales. It was a sportsman’s hunting club.

There is a business, big business, in manufacturing and sales of weapons. These manufacturers pretend to concern themselves with gun safety and the illegal use of their product. Don’t kid yourselves. These manufacturers are interested in one thing: profit. Their support for the NRA lobby is big.

Throwing all the tacky NRA cliches out the window, I think owning a gun is more of a responsibility than a right. There is nothing wrong with registering a gun if you have responsibility of owning it in your mind. You must prove your capability of using it correctly and within the law, the same as owning and driving an automobile.

The Second Amendment: “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.”

I wonder what well-regulated actually means to the NRA. With the lawlessness in gun use being a major concern, maybe we can change the penalty for using a gun in a crime. Like many crimes against the citizens of the United States, the penalties for breaking them are not only governed by law, but also by morality.

One must ask, in the case of gun crimes and molestation of children, are our laws and penalties too moral and constitutionally driven?

— Jim Morris, Renton

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