Gutless puppets in Congress

There is no practical purpose for our society to endure the consequences of the use, or mere existence, of assault weapons. But maybe seeking practical or purposeful policy is no longer the goal of our elected leaders.

The fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would choose to remove the assault weapons ban from the Senate Democratic gun control plan and, thus, preclude any discussion on the floor -- because he deemed it "won't succeed" -- clearly indicates the state of our federal legislative branch.

Instead of being a forum for discussing and weighing creative policy ideas with open and active minds and hearts, we have a collection of close-minded and gutless puppets responding to the pull of the strings of their puppet masters.

They have traded in their integrity for membership in an utterly corrupt culture club.

Ron Greenstein

El Cerrito

Repeal Second Amendment

Congress was right to reject the assault weapons bill. Instead, the Second Amendment to the Constitution needs to be repealed and revised to recognize the changes in technology and health care since it was enacted in 1791.

Then, weapons technology was quite different regarding repeating guns. Also, "mental illness" was virtually unknown. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, and most beloved president by current polls, was mentally ill. I've also been diagnosed with a mental illness but own no guns.

Clearly, the right of people to keep and bear arms needs to be revised based on current technology and health care.

Ralph Hoffmann

Walnut Creek

Maintaining the status quo

Congress rejected a bill to ban assault weapons. However, given the current political environment, maintaining the status quo perhaps was their only choice.

The political polarity we see today is similar to that of the late 1780s when the Bill of Rights was being incubated. The Federalists envisioned a strong, benevolent national government, while anti-Federalists were deeply concerned about the erosion of states' rights.

The Second Amendment was a product of compromise between the two factions, so the Founders' primary concern, the security of the national state, was given prominence.

Historians believe there was an understanding that personal liberties pertaining to guns would be preserved without the need for specific mention.

So today, Congress is left with a 222-year-old, incomplete statement on which to base decisions about complicated, modern social issues. It's like being asked to build a nuclear bomb using information gleaned from a high-school science class.

Without an updated amendment, politicians can only guess at the correct course to take.

John P. O'Shea

El Sobrante

Enforce existing gun laws

Assault weapons account for less than 4 percent of violent crimes. Nine of the top 10 guns used in violent crimes last year were handguns.

Why is an AR-15 style rifle illegal, but a Ruger Mini-14 legal? They're both semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines. The Ruger Mini-14 can be just as deadly as the AR-15, but it just looks more like a hunting rifle, so it's OK.

Assault weapons aren't the problem; mental illness and background checks are much bigger issues. Congress needs to enforce the gun laws already in effect, not add more gun laws.

Congress needs to focus on universal background checks in all 50 states, as well as making it mandatory in all 50 states to turn in mental health records persona institutionalized against their will. Right now, 17 out of 50 states submit mental health records to the Department of Justice.

The majority of Congress realizes that banning assault weapons won't solve the gun problem; they need to implement California's laws in all states.

Randy Martinez

Martinez

The rejection was self serving

Of course, Congress made the right decision in rejecting the assault weapons bill.

Congress has not done anything in the last 10 years or longer, so why do anything of significance now? Besides, if lawmakers voted for the restrictions, how would they ever be able to line their pockets on the backs of their constituents or the lives of innocent children?

Being a Vietnam veteran, I know what firepower is used for and what it can do. In a civilian world, it is not anything good.

I am not so foolish as to believe the legislation will make any near-term difference, but if one of these carnages is stopped, it will be worth it. I do support the Second Amendment of our Constitution, but registration of firearms and limiting killing power are not protected, only the right to bear arms.

Blaming the lack of mental health care is a smokescreen, since it does not take a clean bill of health to buy a gun. Maybe it should.

Roy Larkin

Concord

A reasonable middle ground

Was Congress right to reject the assault weapons bill?

Not if your kid went to Sandy Hook Elementary School or you've been victimized by random gunfire. These congressional politicians are just kicking the can down the road at our mutual peril.

Look, people calling for more gun regulations don't "hate the Second Amendment" or guns -- in fact, many of us own guns. Demonizing us makes as much sense as saying people calling for gun-control inaction support spree-killing gun-nuts.

There's a reasonable middle ground all "sides" should agree to that doesn't disobey the Constitution, doesn't take away anyone's guns, and doesn't limit the lawful right to keep and bear arms. That middle ground only "hurts" the gun manufacturing and distribution industry. That middle ground: Limit civilian sale and distribution of high-capacity detachable magazines to 10 rounds or less, immediately and nationally.

This is a commercial, not personal law. It gives victims a fighting chance, since perpetrators have to reload more often. Existing magazines would be grandfathered-in. And future crazies, gangsters and terrorists will not be able to easily acquire HCMs.

Ed Chainey

Richmond

Congress was right to reject bill

Congress was right to reject the "assault weapons" and clip size bill for several reasons.

To begin with, they are military-style semi-automatic rifles that function in the semi-automatic mode only, in the same manner as other nonmilitary style semi-automatic rifles, not "assault weapons."

Assault weapons, which are used by the military, can be switched between full and semi-automatic fire. Their use by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes far outweighs their use by criminals.

If they were banned, the next steps would be -- as bills introduced in California would -- to confiscate previously legally held firearms and ban all semi-automatic rifles with detachable clips.

It was appropriate for Sen. Ted Cruz to take Sen. Dianne Feinstein to task on the Senate floor because Feinstein has previously stated her anti-gun views in approximately these words: "Mr. and Mrs. America, if I had the votes, I would confiscate them all" (all guns from law-abiding citizens, in violation of their Second Amendment rights).

David R. Russell

Berkeley

Assault weapons ban a farce

The assault weapons ban is and always has been a farce.

The scary term was made up by politicians to sound close to and to be easily confused with "assault rifle," a military rifle capable of automatic fire.

The function of a semi-automatic rifle that I could have purchased 100 years ago is exactly the same as one I can buy now -- it just looks different. The style of rifle to be banned has been sold to sportsmen and hunters for almost 50 years. There are estimated to be 10 million of these already sold.

The FBI study after the previous 10-year federal ban showed no detectable change in violent crime or murder rates.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's ban list was the result of studying gun catalog pictures and picking the nasty looking models with "military" looking accessories.

The rifle found at Newtown was in the trunk of the car, not used in the Sandy Hook school shooting, as reported on Dec. 15 on ABC News.

David Pastor

Pleasanton