Thursday February 14, 2013

I would like to comment on the Feb. 9 letter by Phil Knowles of Lenox ("Take America back from NRA"), in which he makes known his opinion on gun control.

Yes, the NRA wants to educate young people about guns. Educated youth handle firearms safely and are not a danger to anyone. The safe handling of firearms is the foundation of respect for the capabilities of firearms and reduced accidents.

He also references "assault weapons." Assault weapons are automatic, military issues firearms used in war. Automatic means that as long as you hold the trigger, it continues to fire. They are already illegal for civilian ownership except in the case of having a machine gun license which is extremely difficult to obtain. (As it should be.) The NRA does not support civilian ownership of "military assault weapons." The firearms available to the civilian population are of three types. Single shot, requiring a bullet to be loaded by hand for each shot. Bolt/pump action, requiring the manipulation of a mechanism to load a bullet before each shot and semi-automatic which, while the action cycles and manipulates the mechanism using gases from the previous bullet, still requires individual squeezes of the trigger to fire. None of these are used by the military in the course of normal duty. Some Bolt action rifles are used by the military but in relatively small numbers.

The guns that some people are screaming to ban are semi-automatic rifles. The Remington 742 is a semi-automatic rifle. It is used to hunt deer, bear and other large game. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle, used in some locations unless restricted by game laws to hunt deer and other medium/smaller game. The difference? One looks scary to those uneducated on guns and one does not.

I keep hearing about high capacity "ammo clips." A gun does not use a clip to fire, except for the M-1 Garand of WW II fame. Clips are used to load magazines on the other firearms.

While on the subject of magazines, there is a cry to limit magazines above 10 rounds. I did an experiment with a fairly new shooter. First he fired 30 rounds from a 30 round magazine aimed at a bulls-eye target as quickly as he could do it accurately. It took 38 seconds. Then he used three 10 round magazines. It took 46 seconds, so even that argument is not valid.

The issue is enforcement. Nobody I know is opposed to having background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. As for a mental health registry? Who decides what is a "mental health problem?" Is someone with anxiety mentally unfit? A good question.

The bottom line is we are again trying to restrict the law-abiding citizen. The criminals won’t turn in their guns and the law-abiding owners you don’t need to worry about. BRIAN TREES

Pittsfield