Mailbag Jan.8-Jan.15: Guns, guns, guns

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Mailbag Jan.8-Jan.15: Guns, guns, guns

Line of fire

News is finally getting out of the controversial decision by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission to build an open air police firing range at the old Keene Landfill in southern Albemarle [“Albemarle County approves new police training facility despite neighborhood opposition,” November 13]. The Board, with the persistence of Police Chief Sellers, has quickly and quietly shoved the proposal through despite growing opposition. Area citizens are outraged.

Unacceptable issues at the forefront are: unrelenting gun noise (six times the county ordinance level barraging a 78 square mile area); real and eminent risk of errant and ricocheting bullets around populated areas (including two elementary schools); lead and heavy metal contamination of the air and water; and a projected 35 percent drop in property values.

We’re all for the best police training available, but strong arguments for far better alternatives have fallen on deaf ears; the most logical being the availability of a safely enclosed multimillion dollar state of the art live fire and simulator training facility down the road in Nottoway County or an enclosed complex in Scottsville.

The public needs to be aware that the Chief and the Board are not thinking progressively. They are ignoring the well being of area residents, and making up their own rules. This whole issue seems suspicious and we deserve better.

All area citizens should visit www.saveruralalb.com to get informed, read letters, write letters, attend meetings, and sign the petition against this proposal. It’s not too late to reverse this hasty decision and stop this mess from ever starting!

Hal West, Keene

Great guns      

Dear Dan Catalano: I read your article [“Suffer the children, Will the killing never end?” December 25], and I applaud your obvious passion as to the subject, no matter how uninformed.

Within the body of the text you allude to certain “facts” which only serve to support your lack of knowledge as to the question at hand. You mention the “…unfettered access to military hardware for all citizens…” None of the weapons that you allude to, utilized by the mentally ill persons who were mentioned in the article, were military weapons.

Military weapons are fully automatic. None of the weapons used were fully automatic. You mention “large caliber”…the .223 is not a large caliber weapon. As to “unfettered”; in most states there are extensive requirements that must be met before ownership of any firearm  may be achieved. It is currently against the law for anyone in any state who is mentally ill to own or possess a firearm of any kind and the ammunition associated with that firearm. Why pass another law if the current laws are not enforced? The irony is, that as relates to the most recent tragedy, Connecticut has one of the most restrictive set of regulations in the nation. All of the firearms used were acquired legally.

The NRA does not advocate “…arming everyone in sight…” but merely retired or off duty police officers or firemen. If you believe that our schools and the children who attend them are our most precious asset as I do, the question would seem to be why has this not been done sooner? You must agree with me given your alluding to the “thousands of innocent souls” who will be “lost to madmen with easy access to the tools of death.”

I agree with your premise that the subject offenders are “madmen” in need of mental health services. I disagree with your assertion as to easy access. There are more than 50,000 laws addressing firearms ownership in this country. That is not easy access. It has become obvious that in many cases the problem is enforcing the current laws on the books. Ironically, the problem as to the FBI data banks being incomplete as required by law, is a greater problem then so called “gun show sales.” These facts seem to negate your miss-informed allusion to “our current gun laws.”

I do not dispute the fact that “the number of criminal background checks requested by prospective gun owners shot to an all time high the day after the Newtown massacre.” I would ask you to cite the NRA communication that caused this to occur? I would suggest that this was a response to the uninformed rants that occur after each incident of this kind…no mater how well intentioned. I would further assert that the lawful utilization of the “background check system” is what lawful citizens are supposed to do when exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Please note that “arms” is plural. You have a constitutionally protected right to more than one.

You obviously have a problem with the existing Second Amendment right to own a firearm. You also seem to have a problem with the right to private property which, while not specifically addressed in the United States Constitution, was protected with the ratification in 1791 of the Fifth Amendment. I assume that you want your right of Free Speech protected no matter how uniformed. The NRA and its members merely ask that their rights be protected as well with equal passion.

You might find this understandable given that their remarks are informed and factually correct. I would suggest that even the right to free speech is not “protected” when it takes the form of yelling fire in a movie theater when there is no fire. It would seem that the hastily and uninformed construction of your article is perilously close to rising to that level.

I would also suggest that your remarks would be more understandable, no matter how uninformed, if they were in the majority. However, the most recent Today/Gallop Poll of December 19-22 indicates that 51 percent of those polled do not want an assault weapons ban (After all we had one and it did not work from 1994-2004) and 54 percent support the NRA.

The real issue… the one you would be raising if you has some sense of the issues…is the almost total lack of mental health care in this country. Raise this issue sir, and I will be Downtown manning the barricades with you tossing informed remarks rather then emotional “gab” to the cheap seats. You think “assault weapons” are bad? There is not a farm kid in Albemarle County that does not know how to make a bomb with common fertilizer (see Oklahoma City).

Jim Newman, Charlottesville

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