House bills will endanger firearm owners | Letter

As written to my 48th District representatives and senator:

There are two types of people who use firearms for violent and destructive purposes: Criminals, and the few who go insane. Seattle is recording shootings regularly these days, and with few exceptions they are committed by criminals. They obtain their guns through illegal channels, and do not use so-called “assault weapons” in their deadly encounters. They certainly are not about to keep their pistols locked-up and empty of ammunition, and could not obtain a concealed carry permit either. They pack heat all around the town nevertheless, because they are criminals. House Bills 1122 and 1387 in the Washington House of Representatives will only inconvenience, cost and endanger law-abiding firearm owners.

I became a gun owner in 1956 at the age of 10. I kept my little collection in my bedroom on Mercer Island, along with ammunition, and no one in the neighborhood was the least bit concerned. I used them responsibly for mostly target practice, and own most of them to this day.

I spent my late teen years as a Marine infantryman in Vietnam, and returned to vile criticism from many of my countrymen. Doing my sworn duty, many times close to losing my life, I did what was asked by President Kennedy — “what you can do for your country.” Now, I see that both HB 1122 and HB 1122 are designed to drastically penalize me for a lifetime of productive work, and obeyer of our laws.

These two bills are unnecessary, unfair and unneeded. I sincerely understand the emotional reactions of many to the term “assault weapon,” and the visceral fear that has been unfairly attached to firearms of this particular style.

However, this is a misnomer in that a true assault weapon has the facility to fire in full automatic mode — spraying an entire area with a single pull of the trigger until ammunition is exhausted. Such firearms have been totally illegal in Washington state and most of the nation for 80 or more years. What you are attempting to penalize are standard semi-automatic rifles, which have been in common ownership for over a half century.

I own three firearms that would cause me extreme hardships and costs should these bills pass. HB 1387 places severe licensing, transfer mandates and penalties for non-compliance. HB 1122 is, shall we say, overkill, regarding safe storage and requirements for keeping one’s firearm unserviceable at a moment’s notice.

Although I live in a safe area, and all but one unloaded shotgun are in a very secure, bolted down safe, many thousands of others do not have such neighborhood safety. A home invasion is necessarily fast, and 45 seconds fumbling with a lock and ammunition would be fatal to an entire family.

Instead, pass a law that punishes those fools who leave a gun out where a kid gets a hold of it and hurts someone. You should not be punishing perhaps a million people like me for the carelessness of a miniscule few.

You have already made it a criminal offense for me to allow my niece to target practice with any of my guns. She began shooting at 7, is now 21, and these days we must to go to a range where we have to rent a firearm for her. Please do not pass these unfair and overly restrictive assaults on my God-given rights to provide for my own self defense and that of my family as I see fit.

Jeffrey S. Howard


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