Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 18, 2004

Wrong to blame Bush for lapse of weapons ban

The law banning assault weapons expired on Monday, and Sen. John Kerry blames President Bush for its lapse ("Kerry assails Bush over lapse of gun ban," Sept. 14). Am I missing something here?

Under our republican form of government, legislation is enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president. It is the job of Congress, not the president, to pass a bill to extend the ban on assault weapons.

The job of the president is to agree and sign the bill or disagree and veto it.

President Bush said that he would sign into law legislation to extend the assault weapons ban if it were passed by Congress. Congress has failed to act on the issue.

Mr. Kerry is criticizing the tail for not wagging the dog. As a senator, he is in a position to take a lead on doing something about the issue in the Senate, not on the campaign trail.

And I wonder what, if anything, he has done about the subject in the last 10 years.

Has he made any attempt as a senator to make the ban on assault weapons permanent? Or is he simply waving his arms at the issue of the day in a frantic attempt to catch up in the race for the Oval Office?

Although I do think that the assault weapons ban had little or no impact on crime over the last 10 years, I would have no problem with banning such weapons permanently.

What I do have a problem with is a politician, especially a presidential candidate, who doesn't even realize where criticism should be directed in our republican form of government or who simply directs it where he thinks it will do him the most good.

James Fortner

Pasadena

President can't force the Congress to act

I find it strange that when some people describe the passage of the Patriot Act by Congress, they suggest the improper use of the president's position to push or force Congress to act. Yet when he declines to push or force an extension of the assault weapons ban, he's accused by some of the same people of failure to use his authority and influence properly ("Kerry assails Bush over lapse of gun ban," Sept. 14).

No one (except perhaps al-Qaida) held a gun to the head of any member of Congress to vote "yea" on the Patriot Act.

Why is the president always blamed for the inconsistencies of congressional politics?

Probably just because it makes good copy in the media. But what a farce.

William L. Opfer Jr.

Forest Hill

Draft the owners of assault rifles?

The Second Amendment to our Constitution 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."

The fact that we now have (and have had for many years) a state-sponsored "well-regulated militia" (which we call the U.S. Army) long ago negated the fundamental intent of that amendment.

We no longer have need of "citizen militias." Indeed, today, there is no such thing. Thus the idea of "bearing arms" for such a purpose today is preposterous.

Of course, this is not to say that a citizen should not be able to keep a gun (or guns) for recreational or sporting purposes. But surely there is no need for any citizen to be armed with high-powered assault weapons. These deadly instruments should be strictly in the hands of the military or police officers.

However, since it is now legal for everyday citizens to possess such weapons, I suggest that all those who do possess them be instantly called up into our "militia" -- the good old U.S. Army.

After all, that is the true intent of the amendment. And right now the Army could use a few good men. Who better to serve than those intensely patriotic gunslingers armed with those automatic weapons?

And since these macho types already own their weapons and know how to use them, it would save the Army a lot of time and money in training them.

Peter Stewart

Cockeysville

Rising income share goes to the wealthy

The writer of the letter "Steele supports taxpayers tired of unfair burden" (Sept. 6) questions how long the "working taxpayers" will continue to support the "other half of the population who cannot, or will not, support themselves." He seems to view taxes as a redistribution of wealth.

But the income tax is only one of many taxes, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when all taxes are counted, the bottom fifth of the population pays about the same percentage of its income in taxes as the top fifth. And taxes are only one part of a complex system that shuffles goods, services and money around.

For the past 30 years, the top fifth of the population has seen its after-tax income steadily increase, and the closer to the top one looks, the faster the rate of increase. Meanwhile, the bottom fifth has seen its purchasing power decrease.

It would appear that the redistribution of wealth is upward, not downward.

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