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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Same old same old but it looks like the future tack is reasonable gun control, like Kerry's hunting gig vs. total bans. (total ban can come later).

Blowing up gun myths ^ | November 29, 2004 | An editorial

At the risk of noting the obvious, Sunday's deadly confrontation between a semiautomatic weapon-wielding Minnesotan and a group of hunters in northern Wisconsin can and should be factored into debates about the availability of semiautomatic and automatic weapons.

When hunters in Sawyer County confronted the Minnesotan - a 36-year-old Hmong immigrant named Chai Vang who was in a deer stand on private property and told him that he would have to leave - several of the greatest myths that are peddled by opponents of gun control exploded.

To wit:

? Myth One: A semiautomatic weapon is just another kind of gun.

When he was told to leave, in what may or may not have been a racially charged incident, Vang is reported to have responded by opening fire with a high-powered semiautomatic SKS carbine. By the time he was done, six hunters - five men and a woman - were dead or dying. Two others were badly wounded. Several had been shot more than once. Though advocates for no-holds-barred gun policies will claim that just as much havoc could have been wreaked with a standard hunting rifle, that claim is nonsense.

Semiautomatic weapons are increasingly popular among hunters of a not particularly sporting ilk. But it is comic to suggest that they are needed for hunting, unless the targets are people. In northern Wisconsin on Sunday, the toll was higher because the shooter had a semiautomatic weapon.

Does this mean that we need a blanket ban on semiautomatic and automatic assault weapons from here on out? Not necessarily. There are subtleties in this debate - especially when guns are modified. But the debate ought to be more realistic than it has been up to this point, and what happened in northern Wisconsin on Sunday ought to be factored into the debate.

? Myth Two: When people are well armed and trained to use their weapons, they can protect themselves against gun violence.

The victims in Sawyer County had access to guns and knew how to use them. Most of the dead had long experience with their weapons. But they were not prepared for a confrontation with a man who was ready to kill and was carrying a semiautomatic weapon.

The notion that more guns will ever translate into less violence has always been absurd. But the incident on Sunday should remind everyone of the extent to which this fantasy can be deadly.

The point here is not to advocate for sweeping gun controls. This newspaper has always recognized the right to bear arms and we respect the hunting traditions that are so ingrained in Wisconsin.

The group of hunters who were attacked in the woods on Sunday had a right to bear arms. Initial reports suggested that most of them were exercising that right responsibly, although Vang's statement raised concerns about whether that was really the case. The Minnesotan claims that at least one of the Wisconsin hunters shouted a racial epithet at him and then shot at him.

The details of what really happened will have to be sorted out.

But the fact that volatile situations are made dramatically more dangerous when semiautomatic weapons are present should be beyond debate.

Sensible gun controls - perhaps in the form of a ban on hunting with semiautomatic and automatic weapons; perhaps in the form of a more sweeping restriction on the purchase of some guns - place some restrictions on the absolute right to bear arms. But such controls might well have saved at least some of the lives of those hunters.

The proper response to this deadly incident is a balanced one. Wisconsinites have a right to bear arms and to hunt, and that right ought to be protected. But they also have a right to be protected from weapons that are better designed for hunting people than deer.

508 Posts
Custer said:
Sensible gun controls - perhaps in the form of a ban on hunting with semiautomatic and automatic weapons

Someone posted the same editorial recently lately. I think that one line pretty much sums up the writer's integrity. (unless of course, Wisconsin allows hunting with automatic weapons...)

LOL! "Yep, picked up a Minigun fer me an Junior, this season we're gonna bag our limit in 1.8 seconds"

Some columnists would be doing themselves a great favor to step away from the desk and get out into nature before forming opinions on subjects they know nothing of.
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