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Letter: Writer off target on gun rhetoric

Larry Helminiak's Jan. 31 letter was so full of inaccuracies that I cannot let it go unchallenged.

Although it is true that gun retailers who sell at gun shows are required by federal law to perform a background check, Helminiak conveniently overlooks the so-called gun show loophole. Those that classify themselves as occasional sellers are not covered by the federal law. Furthermore, the term "occasional seller" is vague. There is nothing stopping gun retailers from calling themselves occasional sellers.

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Regarding George Mason, Helminiak combines quotes made at two different times by Mason. Oh, and let's not forget that "whole people" didn't include women - and certainly not slaves. But perhaps Helminiak's grossest error is calling Mason a co-author of the Second Amendment. The author of the Second Amendment was James Madison. In fact, George Mason didn't even sign the Constitution.

Regarding Helminiak's claim that WWII Japanese General Yamamoto was afraid to invade America because "there would be a rifle behind each blade of grass," this is an urban legend. In fact, a basic understanding of WWII history will tell you the Japanese were not interested in invading mainland USA.

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Perhaps Helminiak's most egregious claim is that governments, such as Russia, Turkey and Germany, that mandated weapon registration then took the next step to seize them. The source of this assertion is an undocumented, unsigned diatribe making its way around the conservative blogosphere and via chain emails.

According to the Australian Board of Statistics, there has been a marked decrease in gun homicides since its 1996 gun law was enacted. In fact, there hasn't been one mass murder in Australia since then.

Finally, Helminiak also leaves out a number of salient facts regarding Switzerland. Switzerland has a system of conscription. All men between the ages of 19 and 25 must attend military training which lasts for 21 weeks. Thereafter, this well-regulated militia must attend annual military training until the age of 34; age 50 for officers. Citizens may keep a gun in their home, but since 2008 ammunition has been kept at centralized arsenals.

The Second Amendment states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Certainly there was a reason that the phrase "well regulated militia" - the one so frequently ignored by gun advocates - is the first phrase in the amendment.

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Dorothy Scanlan

Westminster

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