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Renewal of Assault Weapons Ban

May 19, 2004

Re "NRA's Eye Is Fixed on Bush," editorial, May 16: Equating the expiration of the (entirely useless) assault weapons ban of 1994 with the easy availability of automatic weapons such as an AK-47 or Uzi is intellectually dishonest and sheds more heat than light on the subject of gun control. Fully automatic assault weapons have been tightly regulated and largely unavailable to the public since the enactment of the National Firearms Act of 1934. No matter what happens with the 1994 act, the status of these weapons will not change.

Rather than regulating functional features of firearms, the 1994 act concerns itself with cosmetic features such as bayonet lugs and flash-suppression mounts. Semiautomatic rifles with the same functional characteristics as the banned guns are easily available to anyone who can pass a background check.

Rather than wasting time debating the useless 1994 act, Congress should work to ensure that existing laws are enforced. The 1994 act was a hysterical response to highly publicized failures of enforcement of existing laws, not a thoughtful and worthwhile attempt to improve public safety. It deserves to expire.

Rick Damiani

Carson

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Thank you for your continued effort to inform the public about the sunset of the assault weapons ban. Police chiefs all over the country support the renewal of the ban. There are precious few days left to move a bill through Congress.

President Bush must take action. This is not a 2nd Amendment issue. Assault weapons have no place on our city streets. They are designed for rapid-fire, close-quarters shooting at human beings. They are not made for hunting or sports shooting.

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people," the NRA will say. Well, people armed with rapid-fire assault weapons will kill lots of people. Assault weapons are equipped with large-capacity ammunition magazines that allow the shooter to fire 20 or more rounds without having to reload.

Rhonda Krantz Mayer

Chatsworth

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