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January 19, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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Obama's gun-control proposals sparks further debate

Gun violence occurs in privacy

Guns are used as a weapon of terror, not only in our streets and schools, but in our homes. In Washington state, gun violence claims the lives of the majority of women killed by their husbands and partners.

Whether fired or not, guns are used by abusive partners to threaten, coerce and control. Each week, New Beginnings advocates safety plans with women who live with armed abusers in the Seattle area. These women and their children are the hidden faces in our community, fearing for their lives daily.

All too often, convicted abusers are able to obtain guns through private sales, gun shows and the Internet. Local jurisdictions struggle to find funding to implement the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. Politics have interfered with our willingness to support research on gun violence prevention.

Yet we have the power to significantly reduce the dangerous role that guns play in abusive situations. The president’s recommendations are a good start [“Obama’s sweeping proposal to broadly target all kinds of gun violence,” page one, Jan. 17]. They represent a clarion call for Congress to summon the courage and willpower to pass legislation that will make a difference. The hidden faces of abused women across the country are depending on it.

--Susan Segall, executive director, New Beginnings, Seattle

Obama’s constitutional claims

In announcing his gun control proposals, President Obama said, “We have the right to worship freely and safely — that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The right to assemble peacefully — that right was denied shoppers in Clackamas, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado.”

Obama added that “that most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were “denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high-school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate.”

That’s true, but irrelevant. As a former lecturer on constitutional law, the president knows the Constitution and Bill of Rights protect the rights of the states and the people from the federal government by limiting federal power. It does not protect the rights of individuals from violations by other individuals. That power — the “police power” — was not delegated to the federal government, and was reserved for the states by the 10th Amendment.

--Dante Driver, Seattle

Second Amendment is not unlimited

In Rep. Reichert’s Jan. 16 op-ed, “Let’s work together on gun control” [Opinion], he states that solutions cannot violate the “Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens.” Unfortunately, the Second Amendment has been used like a Trojan horse to transport military type weapons into our midst under the cover of, but far beyond the intent of, this amendment.

In District of Columbia et al v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority stated that (paraphrased): “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally-ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those ‘in common use at the time’ finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

--Jerry Nuernberger, Redmond

Assault weapons ignored

While I am certainly glad that Rep. Dave Reichert (and many other Republicans) are at least willing to talk about ways to reduce violence in our country, why does he not even mention the possibility of reinstating the ban on assault weapons? What can the possible rationale be for civilians to own these killing machines?

We can’t just throw our arms up helplessly and say there is nothing that can be done because there are millions of these guns already in our communities. That kind of thinking is no way to solve this awful problem. Thank you, President Obama for leading the way in this crucial crusade.

--Laurie Wick, Bellevue

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