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Keep Gun Facts on Target

May 24, 2003

Re "An Energized NRA," editorial, May 19: The Times seems all too eager to misrepresent the truth to scare suburbanites. Namely, you seek to present fully automatic machine guns like the AK-47 and Uzi as products anyone can buy at the local Wal-Mart. Not true, even before Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) "feel good" ban. Automatic weapons cannot be obtained unless the buyer has a federal firearms license. It has been this way since the 1930s.

What Feinstein banned were the semiautomatic replicas of military machine guns that had such military-inspired features as flash suppressors or folding stocks, things that make them look scary but do nothing to increase killing efficiency.

The fact that criminals cannot afford these high-end weapons, which accounts for "assault weapons" being used in less than 1% of gun crimes, seems as lost on The Times as on Feinstein herself. This law is a waste of time, energy and resources and doesn't deserve reauthorization. Replace it with a law guaranteeing sunny days and that would save just as many lives.

Tim Tolleson

Santa Clarita

*

The Times argues that firearms makers and retailers should not be exempt from liability lawsuits and uses the analogy that automakers have been forced to make payments to victims for SUVs overturned by bad tires and that crib makers have paid for the deaths of infants choked by crib bars. There is no comparison here. Those punitive awards were for defective components and bad design, not the criminal and irresponsible use of their products.

William Vietinghoff

Thousand Oaks

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The federal assault weapons ban has nothing to do with the lethality of a weapon and everything to do with mindless gun control as part of a scheme to completely take away the right of citizens to bear arms.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not grant special protection or blanket immunity for the firearms industry. It is designed to stop abusive and politically motivated lawsuits from seeking to destroy and bankrupt law-abiding companies and circumvent legislatures by imposing a gun control agenda through the courts. This act would not prevent a victim injured by a firearm from suing the wrongdoer, whether a perpetrator or a manufacturer or dealer who violated a law that proximately caused the victim's injury. Nor would it prevent a victim from suing based on a product defect.

What would change is that third parties, like Los Angeles and the NAACP, would no longer be able to sue gun makers for the criminal misuse of guns, just as they would not be able to sue an SUV maker for deaths caused by drunk drivers.

Carlton S. Chen

Vice President

Colt's Manufacturing Co.

West Hartford, Conn.

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The juxtaposition of your editorial about the NRA's move to make gun manufacturers immune from lawsuits with "Red Light for Telemarketers," about the new laws about telemarketers, was interesting. I'll be able to sue in small claims court if someone interrupts my dinner but the gun industry will not bear any responsibility if its product interrupts a person's life.

The gun industry knows the dealers who help straw purchasers; it knows the dealers who have sold the most guns used in crimes; it knows that a simple load indicator would decrease gun deaths. And yet it does nothing. And then it doesn't want to allow victims justice.

I applaud Feinstein for fighting to keep the assault weapons ban. I can only hope that President Bush will keep his promise. Guns don't kill people, people kill people, gun proponents glibly say. We don't lose more than 30,000 people each year in the U.S. because people are running with scissors.

Rhonda Krantz Mayer

Chatsworth

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