Re "Drawing a Bead on Assault Gun Ban," editorial, Dec. 13:
As predictably as the next sunrise, your editors have jumped on the congressional intent to repeal the assault weapons ban. The Times' effort to publicly support some form of gun control is laudable, but you champion a straw hero. One more time: The Clinton/Feinstein assault weapons ban is a "junk law," which exists solely for the benefits of allowing President Clinton to claim that he is "tough on crime" and get votes. As a law, it is at best useless, and at worst harmful.
Crime experts and law enforcement agencies know the ban has virtually no impact on reducing shooting deaths. The reason: Assault weapons as defined in the bill are used in less than 1% of violent crimes. Why? Because most, such as the AR-15, are expensive and unwieldy. While I agree that weapons like the MAC-10 and TEC-9 are dangerous, any concealable weapon possessed by a gangbanger is deadly.
In fact, the only accomplishment of the ban since its 1993 introduction has been to become such an irritant to various constituents that it has halted any further meaningful (and necessary) federal control of weapons more effectively than the National Rifle Assn. could ever hope for. In this regard, the ban is nothing more than a fraud and a liability to our violence-drenched society.
Those truly committed to gun control rather than symbolic gestures should support the elimination of this idiotic bill so the country can move on to more meaningful gun legislation. How about this instead? A national registry of all firearms ownership, sales and ballistics, in which operators must obtain a license to own or use a firearm and purchase ammunition.
Now this takes time, but it is real gun control, not a quick poll booster for Clinton. And therein lies the problem: Clinton is dedicated to Clinton, not to the American people.
In your editorial, you say that semiautomatic guns "have no legitimate use in hunting or sport shooting." President Clinton said the same thing. The right to bear arms has nothing to do with hunting or sport shooting. The right to bear arms is to protect citizens against tyranny, against a government that may turn on its citizens. The Founding Fathers understood that the greatest danger to mankind is the state. The fact that our president and The Times don't is very troubling.