Letters for July 17, 2003

Hair trigger

Rounds aimed at Barton:I will advise Miami Police Supply to sue New Timesfor Eric Barton's July 10 article, "Gunning for Profit." Obviously, there was nothing better to fill its pages with than this antigun, anti-Republican, anti-Florida garble. The only issue I cannot argue with is that there is a five-day waiting period in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

You fail to mention that hundreds of thousands of purchases are legal. Instead, you bombard your readers with one or two individuals who were able to buy weapons and ship them back to a country (perhaps true, perhaps not) for illegal terrorist reasons. In my mind, you have created a monster article for self-serving purposes. You fail to mention that hundreds of lives are saved each year because of concealed-weapons permits that you can obtain only by passing a test and going through a background check. Do you know that you cannot even try to save someone under attack without first trying to contact a police officer? You make it sound like everyone can pull out weapons anytime he wants. You cannot go into a bar, airport, or courthouse with a concealed-weapons permit.

You fail to mention that the crime rate throughout the country has dropped 45 percent in states that allow concealed weapons. Are you aware that in the 1920s, it was considered a polite society? You fail to mention that many people buy firearms because they shoot competitively. You fail to mention that there are numerous courses for men, women, and children to learn to use firearms for target shooting, hunting, and other firearms-related sports. There are hundreds of laws in place (federal laws) to protect citizens... perhaps they need to be enforced.

You also fail to mention that it is our duty to protect our country, our homes, our families from terrorists, drug smugglers, and any threat to our country. Just like our founding fathers.

We are ashamed of people like Barton. We are thankful for the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun associations that protect our rights and train our children in liberty. It is unbelievable that Barton has a limited mind span; all of his information is focused on terrorist group sales in Florida and the loopholes in Florida laws. We are disappointed once again by a New Times article.

Adrienne and Aldo Vazquez

Via the Internet

A nonrancorous gun owner:I read with interest Eric Barton's article in New Times about gun running, and although every law-abiding citizen shares his dismay at such activities, it would nevertheless be gratifying to find journalists who write articles about firearms who actually know something about the subject. I say this without rancor. A few points:

1) Hittin' a target at a quarter of a mile (440 yards) is no big deal for a decent rifle. You should have mentioned this distance as being a limitation of the class of rifles in your article. A decent bolt-action deer rifle can hit at 1,000 yards, over twice the distance, and do more damage in the process. One of the complaints about this class of rifles is that they don't have the distance of their predecessors in the military, which causes some dismay when armies switch to these lighter varieties. Austria is a recent case in point.

2) Converting a semiauto to full automatic is not as easy as you say; it still requires special parts that are not readily available in the United States (maybe they are more available in South America). Converting weapons in such a way and using it thusly drastically reduces its accuracy. The U.S. military today discourages the use of full auto because it simply wastes a lot of expensive ammunition with no appreciable gain. Three-round bursts and semiauto (one bullet per trigger pull) are the order of the day.

3) You dismiss as a mantra the NRA's statement about enforcing the laws we have. Did you ever ask yourself whether this might be true? You mention that there are 20,000 gun laws on the books... it seems that after 20,000 laws, you could cover every illegality possibly conceived about firearms and have enough left over to cover cars, drinking, drugs, and prostitution. After all, 20,000 laws is a lot. Does the NRA maybe have something here?

4) I have bought guns at gun shows. I did have to go through a background check. It is done electronically and automatically. Anyone who purchases a weapon from a dealer at a gun show must go through a background check.

5) The reason that concealed-weapons license holders don't have to have a background check is because they already had a background check to get the concealed weapons license.

Having said all this, I don't want American firearms to end up in the hands of the individuals you so ably described in your article. This is a cause of extreme discomfort for any law-abiding citizen -- gun owner or not.

Tom Ward

Via the Internet

And stop rewriting political history,New Times:In Dan Sweeney's July 10 article ("Relax -- We've Got Ideas"), he ascribes to James Carville the comment "that he would set Lee Atwater's heart on fire and then refuse to piss down his throat..." The true quotation is a fine old Southern epithet that is far too genteel to involve the direct action of setting someone's heart on fire. It is, in fact, usually stated, "I wouldn't piss down his throat if his heart was on fire."

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