Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

In his Sept. 20th Commonwealth Times column, Michael Dickinson wrote that the assault weapons ban “eliminated repeat-fire weapons, ammunition clips and certain types of machine guns.”

Mr. Dickinson then went on to classify those voting for President Bush as uneducated “bubbas” and called the threat of terrorism in America “far-fetched doomsday conspiracies.”

Now either Michael Dickinson is intentionally spewing lies in his columns or he is completely ignorant about his chosen topic (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter).

The assault weapons ban, passed in 1993 and put into effect the following year, does not address automatic weapons at all – automatic weapons were banned in the National Firearms Act of 1934.

The assault weapons ban addresses only those weapons classified as semi-automatic, meaning that every time you pull the trigger one bullet is fired.

Since I do have a limited amount of space here I won’t go into all the details of the weapons ban, but I will tell you that the reason these weapons were banned is purely cosmetic.

Some of the provisions in this bill include the inability to own a weapon that has a “flash suppressor,” a pistol grip or a bayonet stud.

A flash suppressor doesn’t hide the flash of a weapon; it diverts the flash away from the eyes of a shooter, thus preventing the temporary blinding effect resulting from firing a rifle. And when was the last time you heard of someone being “run through” with a bayonet?

For good reading on this topic you should look at an independent study by the National Institute of Justice. The NIJ reached the conclusion that the ban had very little effect on shootings and even crime in general.

Assault weapons, as identified in the ban, were used in very few crimes.

The ban was nothing but a knee-jerk attempt by politicians to slow down the gun violence of the mid-1990s, but it accomplished nothing other than limiting the Second Amendment rights of Americans.


Benjamin Colbert


To the Editor:

I just read Alexander Marra’s article about the pizza scene in Richmond (Commonwealth Times, Sept. 27, p. 11).

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