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Reader's response to gun column inaccurate

Sunday, May 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

A few weeks back, I wrote an article concerning America’s dysfunctional position concerning guns. I talked of liberals on one side wanting full control and conservatives on the other wanting to remove any semblance of obstruction. I did not take sides, or at least I did not think I took sides.

I received an e-mail from “Eric,” who appears to be the primary owner and writer for LearnAboutGuns.com. Eric wrote a commentary concerning my commentary. You know you hit the big time when others are writing about your work.

Why “Eric” in quotes? I spent an hour on his Web site and failed to find his full name. He is an American of African descent, a registered Democrat, a conditional Libertarian, a law student and a passionate gun owner. In short, he doesn't fit the “inaccurate stereotype of gun owners that is portrayed with depressing regularity.”

Eric dissected my article, arguing his position. Not too bad for a law student, I might say. He obviously did some research noting that my biography (I am not sure which one), does not indicate that I have a law background. Does seven years as administrative hearing officer for the state of Colorado qualify?

Eric claims, “so-called assault weapons… are defined only by a rather arbitrary set of cosmetic and safety features, none of which make the gun any more deadly.” Not so arbitrary, my friend. Calls to the ATF lead me to Title 27, CFR, Chapter II, Part 478, Subpart B, Section 478.11.

There, in black and white, are the definitions of an assault weapon. It is obvious that Eric has not read the law. A number of weapons or manufacturers are specifically named and definitions given. A semi-automatic assault rifle cannot have two or more of the following: “(1) A folding or telescoping stock, (2) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, (3) A bayonet mount, (4) A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, and (5) A grenade launcher.”

In fact, many of the definitions Eric uses as illegal attachments are permitted, such as a folding stock, if it were the only modification. I don’t need a grenade launcher.

Eric is correct in claiming the Second Amendment is not about hunting. It was not about home-defense either. If one reads the amendment, you will note that it begins with “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” In the late 1700s, every able-bodied man was a member of the state militia, and therefore needed to own appropriate weaponry legally. The argument is really about two commas.

However, through interpretation, the courts have extended this “right” to self-defense. An interpretation, by the way, with which I agree.

Eric also argues that cars, knives, explosives and airliners have been used to kill. He continues, “…the reason that Seung-Hui Cho was able to kill so many people at Virginia Tech is because the law abiding victims were disarmed…” and if students were allowed to carry guns, the Virginia Tech shooting would not have been so costly. It is obvious that Eric has never shot someone breaking into his home (I have) and never saw ABC’s “If I only had a gun.”

I know police officers who have been involved in gun battles. In many cases, the officer had to reload his weapon two or three times and still did not hit his target with the deciding shot. What makes Eric or anyone else think they are better?

Finally, Eric’s response to “the lethality and technology incorporated in the modern handgun, shotgun or rifle could not have been imagined 300 years ago,” is a nonresponse. He did not take on the statement. Of course, the technology and lethality has improved since the muzzle-loading, smooth-bored rifles and handguns of the 18th century.

I have written about “hoax” Web sites and e-mails. Now it is about conspiracy sites with bad research. I can’t wait until “Eric” enters the real world.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Besides the Missourian, David is also a featured columnist for MissouriTribune.com and TRCB.com.  He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.


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Comments

John Schultz May 16, 2009 | 12:23 p.m.

Why should Eric's rebuttal be any less credible due to you not knowing his last name? Did you send him an email asking him for that, or any further points made in his article?

Eric is correct that "assault weapons" are based on arbitrary definitions, even if those limitations are written into law. To whit, from his piece:

"Note that many of the features that define a so-called “assault weapon” are the very features that make a gun suitable for self defense. A large magazine can ensure that a citizen who defends themselves doesn’t run out of bullets at the worst possible time. A pistol grip can help the citizen to control and quickly aim their self defense gun. A telescopic stock or folding stock can allow two spouses of different size to comfortably and effectively use the same gun, meaning that a (smaller) wife can pick up her (larger) husband’s gun and effectively use it against a home invader. Such a stock also allows a larger gun to be folded and safely stored in a smaller gun safe, which I think we can all agree is a good thing, making responsible gun storage easier and cheaper. Similarly, a muzzle compensator can make it easier for a recoil sensitive person to effectively use a gun in self defense, hitting only the criminal. The “assault weapon” bans, which target such features, just make self defense more difficult for law abiding people. Criminals, being criminals, have no problem breaking such laws, and possessing even machine guns."

And finally, the last sentence from your piece is totally uncalled for and perhaps makes you seem less biased on the issue of guns than you claim at the begnning of your piece.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich May 16, 2009 | 12:33 p.m.

"He obviously did some research noting that my biography (I am not sure which one), does not indicate that I have a law background. Does seven years as administrative hearing officer for the state of Colorado qualify?"

Are you licensed to practice law?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 17, 2009 | 12:23 a.m.

First of all, ya gotta wonder about a guy that spent one hour looking to identify the owner of the website learnaboutguns.com and could not find out who this young man is.....

Took me 2 minutes, Mr. Rosman... Now, I know that I am a Private Investigator, and I do this kind of thing for a living, but you should have been able to find this young man's name in 30 minutes, surely?

Eric P**y**r
*2* S. G**v* Ave.
Apt *
O*k P**, Illinois 60*02
United States

Yes, I protected his privacy by substituting some of the lettering in that information with asterisks, as he wishes. But, ask him if that is not him.

So, you have demonstrated that you are lacking in your investigative skills...

Onto your false argument about a well regulated militia.. Well, it may not be correct to call your argument false, because in essence it is true, you just refused to expand on it to suit your purpose... In the late 1700s, a well regulated militia was kept to defend the properties of the people that formed a new government in the USA. Try to remember that even a well regulated militia was vastly different than our modern military. In those days, the militia was kept to protect the local community also. In essence this protection amounted to home defense with one small difference from this day, which is the community got involved in protecting their neighbors. In essence the right to keep and bear arms and to have a well regulated militia WAS partially for home defense purposes.

Boston Journal of The Times; April 13, 1769:

"Instances of the licentious and outrageous behavior of the military conservators of the peace still multiply upon us, some of which are of such nature, and have been carried to such lengths, as must serve fully to evince that a late vote of this town, calling upon its inhabitants to provide themselves with arms for their defense, was a measure as prudent as it was legal: such violences are always to be apprehended from military troops, when quartered in the body of a populous city; but more especially so, when they are led to believe that they are become necessary to awe a spirit of rebellion, injuriously said to be existing therein. It is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defence; and as Mr. Blackstone observes, it is to be made use of when the sanctions of society and law are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."

The right of armed self defense is firmly rooted in common law. Many of the laws that we are governed by today are also still rooted in common law.

MANY publications and instances from early times (1700s) clearly demonstrate that one of the reasons we were given the right to bear arms was for the purpose of self defense...

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 17, 2009 | 6:50 a.m.

"I can't wait until 'Eric" enters the real world."

He may very well enter the real world before YOU do.

(Report Comment)

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