Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs I don’t want to take your guns away, but as a gun owner, I’d like to talk about them.
Ever since the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., all of the TV news pundits want to talk about “a more civil discourse.” However, no one wants to talk about finding ways to tighten gun laws without denying the rights of responsible Americans to own guns.
Can we agree that there is no justification for allowing a troubled man like Jared Loughner to purchase a Glock and quickly accessorize it with a magazine extender that expanded his lethality to 31 rounds of ammunition?
I can figure out that the original reason for designing a magazine extender for the Austrian-made handgun was for a military application. Give me a serious reason why an upstanding citizen who purchases a Glock needs the ability to fire 31 shots (with one chambered round) without pausing to reload. There isn’t one. And don’t tell me it makes it easier to exterminate gophers.
Until six years ago, we had a law that prohibited the sale and manufacture of ammo magazines holding more than 10 rounds. It expired in 2004, and Loughner subsequently was able to purchase an add-on magazine for his Glock.
According to media accounts, Loughner was reaching for a second expanded clip when a female bystander grabbed it and struggled with him. Two male bystanders then physically subdued him.
It’s ironic that in Arizona, where concealed weapons laws are liberal (no permit required), none of those three heroes pulled their own weapon to subdue the accused murderer.
It’s also ironic that the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, where people clamor for secure borders, are substantial sources of the illegally obtained assault weapons being used by Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people annually.
A report published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns in September 2010 found that 90 percent of the guns recovered and traced from Mexican crime scenes originated from gun dealers in the U.S. And of the 4,449 U.S. guns recovered from Mexican crime scenes, 4,057 came from the border states.
The Obama administration has proposed, through the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to require about 8,500 gun dealers in border states to increase reporting on the sale of high-power rifles. Specifically, they would be required to report the sale of two or more such weapons to the same customer in a five-day period. You can read the entire report at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org.
The National Rifle Association contends that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of New York City, and Mayor Thomas Menino, of Boston, are the driving forces behind MAIG and that they actually want to ban all guns. The NRA says Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports restrictions on gun shows that could drive them out of business.
You can read the NRA’s take on Mayors Against Illegal Guns at www.nraila.org/maig. It includes the following quote:
“MAIG has strongly pushed for legislation to prohibit any person listed on the secret ‘terror watch list’ from buying a firearm. This is a serious threat to Second Amendment rights.”
That’s particularly interesting because a poll by Republican pollster Fred Luntz concludes that the large majority of American gun owners, NRA members and gun owners who don’t send dues checks to the NRA, think strongly or to some degree that people listed on the terror watch list shouldn’t be able to purchase guns. Of the polled NRA members, 61 percent felt strongly in favor of that position.
Luntz surveyed 832 gun owners, 401 of them NRA members and 431 who aren’t. Fewer than 20 percent of the 832 think more can be done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while also protecting the rights of citizens to own them.
Finally, I need to come clean. I am a gun owner, but I keep my grandfather’s old lever-action Winchester in a closet. And I’ve never owned a box of cartridges for it.
The last time I fired a gun, I was shooting at .22-caliber rifle from the prone position at a supervised range and hit five targets. I’m pretty proud of that, and I’d look forward to another session of target shooting.
So, let’s adhere to civil discourse — it can’t hurt — and let’s agree to tighten gun laws in America wherever we have a chance to reduce the carnage and can do so without abridging your rights.
I think we can.