Whidbey News-Times


Gun control needs factual debate | Letters

January 20, 2013 · Updated 3:54 PM


The Newtown tragedy makes us think of how such horrible events can be prevented. That applies equally to anti-gun and pro-gun sides of any debate on the subject. There are the usual reactions on both sides, with many bystanders to such discussions just assuming all statements and proposals are factual. That is not the case. Facts and truth are casualties on both sides of the debate.

Some pro-gun people go overboard, but the worst comes from the anti-gun side. Statements are made and proposals floated that are the same ineffective ones that come out after each tragic incident.

There are statements, opinion pieces and letters to editors that are either deliberate misinformation or just plain ignorance. One ran in this paper recently. A couple went to buy binoculars at a sporting goods store. They canceled the deal upon seeing many “machine guns” on the walls. The fact is that machine guns and automatic rifles were essentially banned for civilians long ago. A 1934 federal law severely restricted ownership of machine guns, requiring deep background checks and high fees. In 1986, the purchase of new machine guns by civilians was totally ended. What the writers saw were typical modern rifles that look like military guns, not capable of automatic fire, lacking other military features.

A recent opinion piece in a metro daily also referred to banning automatic rifles. Even President Obama spoke of restricting military rifles in one of the campaign debates. These comments, whether from ignorance or deliberate attempts to influence the gun safety debate, confuse people and lead to ineffective and useless laws. Let’s have an honest and factual debate that promotes effective laws, while protecting the rights of legitimate gun owners.

Gary Nienhuis
Oak Harbor


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