Alan Selch: On guns

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First, I would like to call attention to several factual errors in your piece on the sunset of the "assault weapons" ban. Then I will fill in some background as to why the ban is a bad idea to start with. None of the firearms affected by the ban was of the full automatic type, which is to say they would keep firing round after round with only one squeeze of the trigger. They all required a separate pull for each shot. This is a misconception that has been fostered by many in the media. The AK47 is available in this country, through legal channels, only in the semi-automatic version. I should mention that full auto or machine guns are legal to own in most states, but they can be sold only by someone with a special license to a person who is willing to pay a $200 tax and jump through some other hoops. The ban had nothing to do with them. The ban and all the other gun control laws have no effect on criminals because only a tiny percentage get their guns through legal channels anyway. Most are stolen or purchased on the black market. Furthermore, statistics are showing more and more clearly, that the more law-abiding citizens are armed in a community the less crime there is. The converse is also true. Places where few are armed, such as Washington D.C., and New York City, where legally owned handguns are rare, have very high rates of violent crime, because the criminals, by their own admission, feel safer there. The types of guns included in the ban very rarely are used by criminals anyway. They usually prefer cheap hand guns. The bottom line is, it doesn't matter what is in a killer's hand, it's what is in his heart that causes people to die. The gun is just a tool that can be just as readily be used to defend oneself from those self same criminals. Americans use guns to stop crimes more than 2.5 million times per year; usually without firing a shot. Most criminals would rather run at the sight of a gun than persue their unlawful behavior and risk getting shot. Guns are the great equalizers for the weak among us. Few people argue that we all have a right to self-defense, but there are many it seems, who would limit our choices of the tools we may use for that defense. Friends, this is not the American way!

Alan Selch

Steamboat Springs

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