By Tristan 

Sen. Mansfield on gun rights



The misunderstanding expressed by a Great Falls Tribune reader on Sen. Mike Mansfield's views on guns needs to be corrected. I heard Mansfield debate the issue of gun legislation at length with members of the National Rifle Association and others at a large forum on the Montana State University-Northern campus some years ago, and no one left that gathering with the notion that Mansfield supported gun control as such. He did, however, endorse some gun sale restrictions.

One item of legislation he supported would have limited the high-capacity of ammo clips in semi-automatic weapons to 10. Recently in Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was injured along with 13 others and six were killed by a gunman firing over 20 rounds with a high-capacity clip. If Mansfield's legislation had passed, that slaughter might have been half or less.

A second area of legislation favored by Mansfield would restrict guns in the hands juveniles and insist that young people be trained in the use of firearms. According to recent statistics, eight young people under the age of 19 are killed every day in the U.S. by guns, including the recent tragic events in Great Falls. Mansfield's legislation might reduce such loss of life.

I can't understand the National Rifle Association's opposition to Mansfield on these sensible restrictions, the lack of which costs us as taxpayers up to $2.3 billion annually, as well as 23,000 to 40,000 deaths and 55,000 and 105,000 injuries annually, according to figures last compiled.

When Mansfield spoke in Havre, I was a long-time proud member of the NRA. But no more! Not since they began defending gun dealers who sell to drug lords by falsifying their records and since they sponsored federal legislation (the Tiahrt Amendment) preventing the public from learning the identity of such dealers.

Bill Thackeray



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