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Assault Weapons

July 28, 1993

* In your July 12 editorial, "They're Only Used to Kill People," you assert that the "relentless bullying tactics of the gun lobby" are responsible for the problems with California's assault weapons law. The record does not support such a notion.

In late 1988, state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys) proposed the regulation of four specific "assault weapons." By 1989, with the assistance of some of California's best legal minds, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act was born. They got what they wanted--control of 58 specific firearms. However, it wasn't long before serious problems began to surface. Soon after taking office in 1991, Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren joined forces with Sen. Roberti and Handgun Control Inc. to correct some "technical" problems with the assault weapons act. Later that year the attorney general declared the problems solved. But serious problems persist with the registration procedures, a critically important information guide for law enforcement officers was published years late, and innocents are being arrested in the resultant confusion. Now that California's assault weapons law is emitting a strong odor, the finger-pointing has begun.

The Assault Weapons Control Act was never intended, as you assert, to be a "blanket ban on all military-style semiautomatic pistols, shotguns and rifles." It's not a ban of anything but rather a convoluted registration and permitting scheme. The firearms identified in the law were selected on the basis of appearance, because they had a "sinister look." Five years of intensive effort and a significant amount of taxpayer dollars have been devoted to this project by the Justice Department and the Legislature. Yet, somehow, the problems are the "gun lobby's" fault.

S. C. HELSLEY, State Liaison

National Rifle Assn., Sacramento

* Good for you for calling an automatic rifle what it is, a license to kill. It's past time for the Legislature to cut out the political posturing and get down to doing what's right. Make our lives safer.

HERM STEINMAN

North Hollywood

* Re "Lungren Backs Bill to Limit Capacity of Ammunition Clips," July 13: Lungren and Roberti are certainly to be commended for supporting a bill in the Legislature to prohibit gun clips holding over 15 bullets.

The question is, why do we have any gun arrangements for more than three or four bullets? Or perhaps an even better question is, when will we learn from countries like Great Britain and Japan, and go about removing handguns from our society so as to help restore peace and security? Citizens have to let their representatives know they want action, now, to reduce the menace of guns before we become another Somalia.

ARN POTS

Tustin

* Here we go again. It seems the politicians are never satisfied. Roberti now wants us to believe that a registration scheme and partial ban for rifle magazines will reduce crime in California.

According to the Justice Department, 86% of all firearms used in crimes are obtained illegally, so this law will have little or no impact on criminals. Instead, it will make criminals out of the hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Californians who own high-capacity magazines.

NOEL D. INGLE

Chula Vista

* The reason Gian Luigi Ferri was able to kill eight people and wound six others in a San Francisco law office is not because gun laws are too lenient--but because they are too strict. All that strict gun control does is give criminals greater assurance that their victims will be unarmed and helpless. If the police chief of San Francisco had given concealed weapon permits to two or three of the persons in that law firm, the killing and wounding of innocent men and women would have been brought to a stop much sooner.

Think about this--in every one of these mass murder situations the only thing that ever stops the murderer is the arrival of another person with a gun.

RICHARD J. CHRYSTIE

Orange

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