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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Clarifying Gun Issues
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Clarifying Gun Issues

I read your editorial on “Gun Reform Now” in the Aug. 8 edition of the Mount Vernon Gazette. So you may understand the context for my comments, allow me to provide some background information about me. I am retired military with 30 years of service and a background in intelligence, security, and firearms matters.

  • “Assault Weapons” Ban. I am appalled at the misleading and deliberate disinformation being presented to the public by the media. Equating the AR-15 with military battle/assault rifles such as the M-16 or M-4, (real assault weapons) is an example of a deliberate act of lying to the public to garner public support for banning AR-15 rifles. Military assault rifles are “select fire” weapons. In layman’s terms, there is a switch that enables the shooter to put the rifle into most if not all of the following positions depending on the maker and design of the weapon: Safe - the rifle cannot be fired; Semi-automatic - 1 bullet fired with a single pull of the trigger; Burst - 3-5 bullets fired with a single pull of the trigger; and, Automatic - all bullets in the magazine fired with a single pull of the trigger. Those are the characteristics of a real military assault/battle rifle. AR-15s are semi automatic firearms and neither weapons of war nor “weapons of mass destruction” as some politicians, reporters and pundits in the media have mislabeled them. Vincible ignorance is no excuse for disseminating false information.

  • Universal Background Checks. Firearms purchases in Virginia do require the potential buyer to affirm that they are not under any restraining order, been adjudicated mentally unstable etc., the conditions mentioned in your editorial. I am opposed to some proposals as currently represented. Sales of privately owned firearms to private individuals and friends or acquaintances and gifts to family members should not be included in any law. It criminalizes the firearms sale or transfer between law-abiding citizens and has no effect in stopping active shooters as recent events have demonstrated. This places a burden on law-abiding citizens or gun owners both in terms of time and cost for non-business individual sales. These costs and their impact on private, law-abiding citizens have not have not been openly discussed in any forum that I have seen. Current private sales or auctions over the Internet based on my research are handled through Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and go through the National Instant Check System (NICS) per the seller’s request. A simple check of websites like Gun Broker, Guns America and other sites proves the point. Interstate sale and transfer of guns except through FFLs is already illegal. Virginia provides a means at gun shows for private sellers to have background checks performed. I do support the inclusion of those who have mental issues in the NICS database assuming there are no violations of their constitutional right to privacy and due process in doing so. Virginia does contribute to the NICS database. Some states do not. That 's a real loophole and an area where federal and state governments can cooperate. Individuals who have been identified as attempting to buy firearms or are “straw buyers” in violation of current law, should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest. Apparently, this law is being mostly ignored by federal and state law enforcement officials. And is another loophole that rests solely with government.

  • Magazine Limits. The number of rounds needed in a magazine is a function of the type of hunting one may be doing. Hog hunters will use larger capacity magazines and more ammunition than a deer or elk hunter. The threat with which one is confronted is another important consideration. That threat could be a large group of Ku Klux Klansman attacking a black sharecropper attempting to protect his family from the Klan, or a merchant trying to protect his property or business from a mob or looters, or a homeowner protecting his home and family from a group of gang members attempting a forced entry home invasion. All of the preceding is based on a history of actual events in various U.S. cities where either the police did not act or respond or arrived on the scene too late to be of any real value. By the way, the average response time for police to an incident is about eight minutes. Your example is an anomaly and probably a result of increased security at an event.

  • School Safety. Very little of what I have read addresses this issue except with respect to guns. I support any proposals that will place armed school resource officers or police at all schools. That reduces the time and space that a potential attacker has to inflict maximum damage by enabling a faster armed response. Additionally, physical security measures which provide for security in depth from the school perimeter, school entrances and internal school floor plans are worth doing. These security arrangements are site specific and site surveys are needed. These responsibilities should remain with local authorities. Also, allow those school staff members who wish to carry a firearm to be trained and armed.

  • Gun Free Zones. Abolish gun free zones of any type. It is clear from most past mass shooting incidents that the attackers have intentionally gone to areas that have been declared gun free zone enabling them to attack innocents at will without fear of confrontation. These areas have become “government-approved killing zones.” Politicians and school officials who have enacted these zones where individuals have been killed bear responsibility for the deaths that occurred in those “killing fields” by failing to provide adequate security. See references below:

  • https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-study-2000-2013-1.pdf/view

  • https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/activeshooterincidentsus_2014-2015.pdf/view

  • https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-incidents-us-2016-2017.pdf/view

  • https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/active-shooter-incidents-2000-2018.pdf/view

George Souza

Alexandria