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March 20, 2018

3/7/2018 11:17:00 AM
True weapons of war and changes in people
A citizen's view

The emotion-laden letter “Guns, like drugs, are agents of death” (Weekly News, February 28) is fraught with hyperbole, clearly intended to elevate the scope of the perceived “problem”. Without being specific, the writer asserts that “weapons of war (are) in the hands of many” and alludes to private ownership of “weapons of war similar to those used in the mass killings” as the major element and cause. The truth of the matter is, there are no legal “weapons of war” in private hands.
The assumption is “weapons of war” equates to the ubiquitous “AR-15”, aka “assault rifle” ... terms commonly used in the mass media either by uninformed writers/editors, or more likely, intentionally to deliberately mislead the general public in order to attain a desired outcome.
A brief perspective of history is necessary: The true “weapon of war” was/is the Colt M-16, originally developed by the Armalite Corp. as the AR-15 (AR stands for Armalite Rifle), later acquired by Colt. The M-16 is a selective fire rifle, meaning the operator can choose semi-automatic or full-automatic mode. I was issued an early M-16 when I was a Navy advisor in Vietnam in 1966, so am very familiar with them. A semi-automatic only version, manufactured by Colt – and very similar in appearance to the military M-16 – is sold on the civilian market as the AR-15. Many other manufacturers began to market similar rifles after Colt’s patent expired in 1977. Although Colt has trademarked “AR-15” exclusively, the media erroneously refers to all rifles of that style as AR-15s.
The writer asserts that such guns (i.e., his “weapons of war”) equate to the domestic evils of nicotine and narcotics and can be dealt with legislatively. The difference is, neither nicotine nor narcotics are protected by the Second Amendment that the writer interprets quite differently than the Supreme Court and a majority of citizens. I was a teenager in Montana in the 1950s. Guns were available and sold everywhere – gun shops, hardware stores, pawn shops, even by mail order from catalogs. The customer walks in, hands over his money, and walks out with a gun. No paperwork, no delays, no nothing. Yet despite the availability and ease of access to guns, no one was invading schools and churches and murdering people. That sort of thing just didn’t happen until relatively recently.
The question to be asked is, what has changed in people over the past few decades that makes such mass murders even a possibility? One thing for sure, it is certainly not “the gun!” The gun has not changed, but something drastic in a small segment of people has.
To attack the gun, and by inference the gun owner, is the wrong course of action.
Bruce Elliot
La Conner

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