The problem is not law-abiding citizens

Published: January 9, 2013
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The high murder rate in the United States is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, we've focused on a ban of assault rifles as a panacea. This preoccupies us with a debate that'll be of little benefit regardless of outcome. Surprisingly, the FBI reports that slightly more murders are committed each year with shotguns than with rifles of all types, including those with large-capacity magazines. And 90 percent are committed with handguns. Is it reasonable to believe that anyone intent on murder will be persuaded against it because they can't get an assault rifle?

All states have laws that prohibit convicted felons from possessing firearms, yet a study by the Justice Department shows that 67 percent of murders are committed by those with previous arrest records. The major problem is felons with firearms, not law-abiding citizens who buy assault rifles. When police officers stop a vehicle and suspect it contains drugs, they often request a canine unit to sniff for drugs. If the dog gives a positive alert, they then have probable cause to legally search the vehicle without obtaining a search warrant.

We should consider having a similar law providing that a previous felony conviction gives law enforcement probable cause for searching those felons, their residences and vehicles for guns. That wouldn't be a panacea either, but it would give law enforcement an additional tool for performing random sweeps to confiscate illegal weapons.

Bill Walker, Yukon



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