Union Democrat staff

Believe it or not: Guns kill people

To the Editor:

The murders of twenty Newtown 6-year-olds and six adults are haunting. It takes no imagination to see these children in their moment of heartrending pitiful terror. But the NRA differs, the children weren't the victims the gun owners are - they're always the victims, whining about imagined threats.

Why is Congress trying to take all our guns away? They're not. Why are innocent gun owners being punished? They're not. Why are "they" questioning the Second Amendment? Because when 30,000 people a year die because of gun violence it's time to find out why. If a jumbo jet with 575 people aboard crashed every week (30,000 people a year) wouldn't we demand action? Surely the intent of the Second Amendment wasn't the murder of 6-year-olds.

Assault weapons are for killing people, even children know that. Advertising works - the NRA, movies and computer games put weapons in our lives. An AK-47 makes it easy to kill a lot of people. What is the use for an AK-47 in an American community?

Seventeen years ago, NRA lobbyists ended government research into guns and gun violence. So we're left with opinions, and few facts. Ignorance, the bane of civil society, turns into conspiracy theories like the "The government is being taken over by the Nazis, Communists, Christians, or corporations. Guns are our only protection." Why, "they" said so? Why stop at the government taking away our guns: how about electricity, water, gasoline, garbage pickup, TV sports, chips and guacamole.

Spurious arguments like "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Cars don't kill people so let's get rid of traffic and speed laws?

What's most important to the NRA is that we talk about childish nonsense not about the equivalent of three Newtown's that happen every week because that's called responsible action.

Robert Carabas


Disappointed in Sheriff Mele

To the Editor:

I voted for Sheriff Mele and have always supported him and all law enforcement officers. Therefore, it was a huge disappointment when he informed us that he supports possession of assault weapons and large quantity clips, regardless of the havoc they wreak on innocent people.

And further, what a shock to learn he decided which federal laws he will enforce. It seems Sheriff Mele has written his job resignation with this immoral and unlawful philosophy. I hope the voters of Tuolumne County say goodbye to him at his next election. As an officer of the law he swore to protect and to serve. Well, he doesn't deserve our support or his salary which is paid by us - those who abide by all laws, including federal.

Suzanne Thomas


Misguided letters have it wrong

To the Editor:

Recent opinion letters berating Sheriff Mele for his stand against unlawful gun controls are misguided; ranging from downright petty, to woefully uninformed. One remark even misinterprets D.C. v. Heller (2008); suggesting Mele's position is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court Constitutional rulings.

Appropriately every American sheriff swears an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against threats, foreign and domestic. Moreover the landmark Heller case adopted a "common use" threshold framed in U.S. v. Miller, for determining lawfulness of firearm restrictions. Now juxtapose the latter with over three million AR-15 ("assault") style rifles sold in the U.S., and Sheriff Mele's act becomes clearer.

Key is what makes AR-15 type weapons unique from other semi-automatics (and literally the nation's most popular firearm, among some 210 million semi-autos), are cosmetics - appearance, nothing more. Yes these arms look menacing yet functionally have the same cyclic fire rate as other semi-auto rifles, making them common among citizen weaponry. Thus banning AR-15 type guns on balance with the "common use" doctrine would be federal legislation, the Heller court already ruled unconstitutional.

So is Sheriff Mele out-of-line? Nope, not even remotely. The Supremacy Clause under Article VI places the U.S. Constitution at apex of law, whereas expressing protection for highest rule of this land is precisely what our sheriff has done. Conversely overcritical citizenry are remiss by holding cheap the Bill of Rights, and one good man's engaged duty defending it. Shame on such halfcocked hubris!

Mark Villaseñor

Twain Harte

Virtuous people are self-governed

To the Editor:

What has changed?

Many years ago I purchased a gun from Coast to Coast Hardware in Sonora. No identification, no permit, no waiting period, no background check. The streets and homes and property were safe. Now there are many laws and restrictions on my God given right to self defense.

Laws fill the bookshelves, prisons are overcrowded, and violence is epidemic. More laws are not the answer.

What has changed?

We have!

Virtuous people are self- governed, without virtue they cannot be controlled.

John P. Dunlap