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Published: Monday, January 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A question of balance in seeking solutions

And so, the debate begins.
Tune in at any time over the next several months, and you'll likely hear the same arguments that have been going back and forth since this entire mess began.
That said, I'll make a prediction regarding "assault weapon" bans and 10-round limits in magazines.
If they're passed, neither will make a bit of difference.
As regards "assault weapons," realistically, that horse has long since left the barn. There are millions of these rifles already out there, and more being sold each day. Thus, unless you want to debate confiscation or a mandatory turn-in (good luck with either one), the point is already settled.
We couldn't control alcohol during Prohibition, and let's see a show of hands from those who believe we've got illegal drugs under control. The same would be true for these rifles.
Further, what's being pointed at is purely cosmetic and cosmetics, in a rifle, don't kill.
A pistol grip won't kill you. Nor will barrel shrouds, bayonet lugs, collapsible stocks, accessory rails, laser pointers, flashlights, or what have you. At the end of the day, these are still simply semi-automatic rifles. Nothing more. Nothing less.
What does kill, as noted in another column, is "what," "how quickly," and "how many" are coming out of the muzzle and headed your way. And, there, we meet with the 10-round magazine capacity which is, basically, pointless as currently proposed. Pointless, unless you re-design the rifle so as to make reloading (and detachable magazines don't help with this) a much slower process.
Talk with any experienced firearms owner and they'll explain how anyone with access to electrical tape can marry two or three detachable magazines together and, voilà!, we're back to 30 rounds which can be brought into action in the space of seconds.
Further, with high-capacity magazines (for which I don't see a need), you have the same problem as with the military-look-alike rifles. The horse and barn scenario. There are millions already out there and they're not going to disappear either.
Like it or not, that's the reality of the situation.
As for the executive orders -- universal background checks, better/quicker exchange of information between law enforcement agencies, attempting to get our mental health programs into better shape, research into the causes of gun violence, etc., -- many of the steps may help, sorely need to be tried, and some are, in fact, long overdue.
With that, I'd like to mention something else.
As a firearms owner, I'd also like to see a balance, an equality of effort, and an even-handed rationing of assets and funding in attacking this problem we face.
I hear all of these proposals, but I worry that -- in the long run -- the only ones that will be pursued with true fervor are the ones directed at firearms and their owners. I fear that the resources available will not be appropriately allocated to other areas where results might be achieved.
I'd like, for instance, to ensure that topics like mental health issues, their adequate funding, and the possible effects of media violence on society -- whether through television, movies, or video games receive precisely the same intense scrutiny and publicity as firearms and magazines.
I'd like to see this because 50 years ago, as a teenager, I could bike to the local Western Auto, carrying my .22 caliber rifle (available through the Sears catalog) with me, buy ammunition over the counter, and go behind a local levee to shoot at cans -- and no one raised an eyebrow.
Something's changed in those 50 years and it hasn't been for the better. The willingness of young men to go out -- on what is now a regular basis -- and turn a firearm on others wasn't there when I was growing up nor were we, in apparent fear of our government, advertising for spots in "Citadel" communities purportedly to be built in Idaho (Application fee $208 dollars. P.T. Barnum smiling from his grave. PayPal accepted.).
We need to get a handle on this because 300 million firearms in circulation aren't going to go away no matter what we wish.
Balance in the effort to find solutions, however, would be nice to see.
Not holding my breath, though.


Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: larrysim@comcast.net

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Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

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