Firearms, Hunting & Trapping:Facts and Positions
Stephen B. Jeffries
(Extensive information contained herein was extracted from FACT Sheets prepared by Gun Owners’ Action League.
Mr. Jeffries wishes to publicly acknowledge the inestimable contribution of GOAL as the original source of much of the below listed text and information.)
- PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF FIREARMS
- Who owns firearms?:
- Scholarly opinion: Guns do not cause crime:
- Public opinion polls: Americans support gun ownership:
- Police view: licensed gun owners can deter crime:
- Private firearms ownership in Massachusetts:
- WAITING PERIODS
- Would a 7 day “waiting period” have stopped John Hinckley?:
- Would a “waiting” or “cooling-off period” reduce crimes of passion?:
- Would a “waiting period” reduce suicide rates?:
- Would a “waiting period” keep guns out of the wrong hands?:
- Do states with “waiting periods” have lower crime rates?:
- Would a “waiting period” reduce the number of guns used in crimes?:
- Would a “waiting period” reduce violent crime?:
- How would a “waiting period” affect law-abiding gun owners?:
- Is there an alternative to “waiting periods”?:
- ASSAULT RIFLES
- What is an “Assault Rifle?”:
- What is Meant by a Semi-Automatic Rifle or Shotgun?:
- What kind of license is required for a semi-automatic gun?:
- Definition of an automatic firearm:
- What is required to lawfully possess a full automatic?:
- How would an “Assault Rifles” Ban have affected the Stockton, California tragedy?:
- What are some purposes for which “Assault Rifles” are used?:
- What about Conversion to an Automatic Firearm?:
- RESTRICTED LICENSES
- What affect did this ruling have on licensed gun owners?:
- Has the legislature clarified its intent?:
- Are restricted licenses still a problem?:
- What are examples of “restricted” licenses?:
- How are “restricted” licenses issued?:
- What would happen if licenses were “unrestricted”?:
- Other problems with “restricted” licenses:
- This policy seems extremely unfair. Is there anything that can be done?:
- Is hunting a safe sport?:
- How is hunting regulated?:
- What do sportsmen do to help wildlife?:
- What would be the effect if hunting were to be banned?:
- How is trapping regulated in Massachusetts?:
- Where are traps set?:
- Are leghold traps a “vicious” way of trapping an animal?:
- What is the purpose of trapping?:
- What kinds of animals are trapped?:
- MANDATORY TRAINING AND TESTING
- What is Massachusetts’ firearms accident rate?:
- Would a mandatory program affect the accident rate?:
- How would a mandatory training and testing program be run?:
- How much would it cost to create a mandatory training program?:
- Has the state legislature voted on this issue?:
- Is there an alternative program?:
- SNUB-NOSED HANDGUNS
- What is a “snub-nosed” handgun?:
- Are “snubbie’s” used for legitimate sporting purposes?:
- Is the “snub-nosed” handgun the criminal’s choice?:
- Are “snub-nosed” handguns cheap to buy?:
- Who owns “snub-nosed” handguns?:
- PLASTIC GUNS
- What are plastic guns and who manufactures them?:
- Do any guns have plastic parts?:
- What do experts say about plastic guns?:
- Is there evidence that the Glock 17 can bypass security?:
- Is there a problem with America’s airport security?:
PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF FIREARMS
Who owns firearms?:
In 1986, Texas A & M University released a nationwide survey conducted by professors William Pride and O. C. Ferrell which found that higher-income whites with some college education are those most likely to own handguns, and that 35-40% of these handgun owners are female. In 1989, The Message, a monthly newspaper for pro-active gun owners, surveyed its Massachusetts readers. The survey results showed that Massachusetts gun owners are well represented in many professions: executive level management, service oriented jobs, education, health and human services, and sales. Over 40% of the households surveyed had an income of more than 45,000 per year. 78% of those surveyed stated they owned or carried a firearm for self-protection.
Scholarly opinion: Guns do not cause crime:
In 1981, the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice released a quarter-million dollar study, Weapons Crime and Violence in America, conducted by research sociologists James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The report concluded that there appeared to be “no strong causal connections between private gun ownership and the crime rate.”
Public opinion polls: Americans support gun ownership:
An April 6, 1981 Lou Harris poll showed 52% of Americans maintain: “Gun control does not get at the heart of solving violent crime.” A May 1981 poll by Glamour magazine revealed 68% of its readership think handguns should not be banned, and 53% believe people need handguns to protect themselves. (12% were undecided). An October 1981 American Druggist poll showed over 90% of its readership oppose firearms restrictions for law abiding citizens; 80% own guns; and 20% have successfully used guns for self-protection. A June 24, 1982 George Gallup poll revealed 54% of Americans believe it should be legal for individuals other than police to own handguns. In a readers poll conducted by People magazine after the 1985 Bernie Goetz incident, 56% felt Goetz was justified in his actions and 87% felt they had the right to be armed with a handgun for self-defense. In November 1976, Massachusetts defeated a referendum to ban private firearms ownership by a vote of 69% to 31%.
Police view: licensed gun owners can deter crime:
Crime Control Research Project of Bellevue, Washington polled police and found 64% believe that an armed citizenry deters crime. In 1986, the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Federation of Police conducted a poll of their members and found: 96% did not think banning civilian ownership of firearms would reduce crime or keep criminals from getting guns; 98% believed citizens had the right to own and use firearms for protection; and 89% did not believe gun control laws had any effect on criminals. In 1989, the National Association of Chiefs of Police surveyed command officers from across the country. 90% did not believe that the banning of firearms (handguns, shotguns or rifles) would reduce the ability of criminals to obtain such weapons. 87.6% did not believe that the banning of private ownership of firearms would result in fewer crimes from firearms.
Private firearms ownership in Massachusetts:
From 1977 to 1984, the number of Licenses to Carry Firearms (handgun permits) tripled, while the crime rate decreased, in some areas by as much as 15.9%. There are currently 2 million licensed gun owners in Massachusetts. According to the Department of Public Safety, an infinitely small number of them ever come into conflict with any state law, be it traffic or firearms laws. There are more than 500 sportsmen’s clubs across Massachusetts. Competitive shooters participate in organized matched, some hoping to join the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team — the team with the most Gold Medals won for America.
Would a 7 day “waiting period” have stopped John Hinckley?:
No. Hinckley purchased the gun he used in the Reagan assassination attempt six months prior to committing the crime. Further, Hinckley had other handguns at his disposal, guns which he purchased under California’s 15 day “waiting period”.
Would a “waiting” or “cooling-off period” reduce crimes of passion?:
No. According to the FBI, most of these types of homicides occur between 10 PM and 3 AM — long after gun stores are closed. This negates the argument that people “run out to buy a handgun”, then commit a homicide with it. A Kansas City study on domestic homicides found that in 50% of these cases, police had been summoned to the home at least five times, and in 90% of the cases, police had been summoned at least once. The solution to this problem is not a “waiting period” for gun purchases. Law enforcement must have a more serious attitude concerning domestic violence.
Would a “waiting period” reduce suicide rates?:
No. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated in April 1985 that “waiting periods have no effect on suicides.”
Would a “waiting period” keep guns out of the wrong hands?:
No. Some assert that New Jersey’s “waiting period” for gun purchases “caught 33,000 criminals” attempting to obtain permits to purchase handguns. However, the majority of these rejections were not based on criminal records. Further, the figure cited includes rejections of separate “permits to carry concealed,” which are regularly denied to honest citizens with no criminal record. As Willis Booth, a former chief of police and lobbyist for the Florida Police Chiefs Association stated: “I think any working policeman will tell you that the crooks already have guns. If a criminal fills out an application… he’s the biggest, dumbest crook I’ve ever seen.” Additionally, research indicates that “waiting periods” have no effect on criminals: 1) A study reported in Annals of the American Academy of Political Science in May 1981 found that “most felons and other ineligibles who obtain guns do so not because the state’s screening system fails to discern their criminal record, but rather because these people find ways of circumventing the screening system entirely”; 2) A Justice Department study released in October 1985 demonstrated that convicted felons’ primary mode of obtaining guns is theft; 3) A study from the University of Massachusetts, funded by the Justice Department, found that criminals get guns from other criminals. Neither a “waiting period” nor any other additional restriction on the lawful purchase of firearms would affect criminals, since they don’t abide by the law.
Do states with “waiting periods” have lower crime rates?:
No. Research has not found any evidence of lower crime rates in the 16 states with ” waiting periods”. In fact FBI statistics show the opposite to be true: States with “waiting periods” are those with the greatest increases in homicide and violent crime rates. For example, California’s homicide rate increased 126% as the state increased its “waiting period” from 48 hours to five days to 15 days. During this period, the national homicide rate rose by less than half that amount.
Would a “waiting period” reduce the number of guns used in crimes?:
No. “waiting periods” assume it is primarily newly purchased guns that are used in crime, since criminals don’t have to “wait” to use guns they already possess. POLICE FOUNDATION’s 1977 study, Firearms Abuse found that only 2.1% of all handguns traced to crime were less than one month old — which is four times as long as the proposed “waiting period”. Thus, more than 98% of handguns used in crime are not newly purchased guns, and therefore would not be affected by any “waiting period”.
Would a “waiting period” reduce violent crime?:
No. Like all other laws, a “waiting period” law would only affect those people who abide by the law; by definition that excludes criminals. According to FBI statistics, 80% of violent crimes are committed by career criminals, and 30-35% of robberies and murders are committed by people who are on some form of conditional release … bail, parole, probation or suspended sentence. There is no doubt we must address the issue of violent crime and those who commit it, but “waiting periods” would have no effect on either.
How would a “waiting period” affect law-abiding gun owners?:
A “waiting period” would infringe upon the law abiding citizens’ right to purchase personal property and take possession of it when he/she wishes. For example, a law abiding gun owner would have to wait seven days before taking possession of every gun he/she purchased lawfully, even if bought only one day apart. Further, buying guns legally requires the government to approve the purchase; if John Doe were criminally minded, he wouldn’t be buying guns legally in the first place — as research already cited indicates. He would be getting guns from illegal sources and/or could use firearms he already possessed to commit a crime. Additionally, a “waiting period” can endanger the safety of law abiding citizens: 1) In July 1985 a California woman who was being terrorized by her neighbor had to endure 15 additional days of torture before she was allowed to bring home the gun she subsequently used in self-defense against her attacker; 2) Potential victims of the so-called California “Night Stalker” were reportedly upset at having to wait 15 days to protect themselves: 3) During the Liberty City riots in Dade County, Florida, law enforcement leaders publicly informed citizens that they could not protect them so citizens would have to protect themselves — but a county “waiting period” thwarted the attempts of law abiding citizens who wanted to purchase handguns for self – protection.
Is there an alternative to “waiting periods”?:
Yes. For every 500 serious crimes, only 20 adults and five juveniles serve any time in jail. Simple logic dictates that crime will continue until criminals are taken off the streets. America’s criminal justice system must be held accountable for this public safety failure and strengthened so that it serves the interest of law-abiding — rather than law-breaking — citizens.
What is an “Assault Rifle?”:
According to the Department of Defense “assault rifles” are “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between sub-machinegun and rifle cartridges.” Their characterized distinction is based on weight, to a lesser degree, power and the immediate ability by virtue of a selector switch to fire fully automatic. As such they are already regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
What is Meant by a Semi-Automatic Rifle or Shotgun?:
There are essentially seven methods of modern rifle mechanisms: bolt action, lever action, slide action, single shot breech action, falling block rifles and shotguns, semi-automatic and fully-automatic. A semi-automatic rifle or shotgun is one that requires a person to pull the trigger for each individual shot to be fired. A semi-automatic places a new round in the chamber by use of the expanding gasses of the previously fired round, but the person must still pull the trigger (again) for this round to be discharged. The semi-automatic action is merely a convenience to the shooter and has no effect on the caliber of the cartridge, the gun’s power, or its accuracy. Here are some common examples of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns: All civilian production of Browning, Colt, Remington, and Ruger rifles except bolt-actions; U.S. surplus rifles including M1, M1 Carbine, GR43, AK47, FN49, Haekame, Rashid and SKS; all Browning, Remington, Mossberg and Winchester shotguns except slide action, breech action or over and under type. The average cost of these firearms is $500.00, with many selling for over $1,000.00 and at least one model, the Heckler and Koch PSG 1 Marksman, selling for $8,599.00.
What kind of license is required for a semi-automatic gun?:
Mere possession of a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun in Massachusetts has required licensing since 1969. Violation is punishable by a mandatory one to five years in prison. The licensing procedure requires a criminal records check. In the case of pistols, revolvers or semi-automatic handguns, the licensing procedure also includes fingerprinting and the applicant must have no felonies and no history of drug or alcohol abuse or mental instability. Prior to 1969, no license was required for lawful possession of semi-automatic rifles or shotguns. The law regarding handguns, including semiautomatic handguns, has been in effect since 1906.
Definition of an automatic firearm:
An fully-automatic firearm or machinegun, as defined under the National Firearms Act of 1934 is “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.”
What is required to lawfully possess a full automatic?:
Federal law prohibits the transfer and possession of any such fully automatic firearm, which includes an AK-47, not lawfully possessed prior to May 19, 1986. Those held prior to that date may be transferred to individuals licensed to possess same who, for each gun purchased, pass a federal record check (which usually takes 90 days), pay a $200.00 transfer tax, are finger printed and secure a sign-off from their local police. In Massachusetts, there is also a requirement for a separate state license issued at the discretion of the police chief.
How would an “Assault Rifles” Ban have affected the Stockton, California tragedy?:
Patrick Edward Purdy, the murderer of five school children, had been arrested for the following offenses during the ten year period before the event: possession of drugs, possession of dangerous weapons, sex offenses, attempted robbery, extortion, receiving stolen property, conspiracy and resisting arrest. On the day of the massacre, Purdy would have been incarcerated were it not for the failing criminal justice system which allowed Purdy to plea bargain in every case to misdemeanor offenses. Additionally, in April 1987 mental health workers in a formal report classified Purdy as “a danger to himself and others” – – grounds for psychiatric commitment which never occurred. It is proper enforcement of existing laws, not enactment of new ones, that would have prevented this tragedy. (The same problem occurred in January 1981 when John Hinckley was caught trying to smuggle a gun onto a plane but was set free a few days later.) Most proposals to ban “assault weapons” contain language that would allow a board or commission to “create a roster” of newly described “assault weapons.” But all proposals we have seen affect only those persons who are already in lawful possession of a semiautomatic firearm, with no provisions for punishment of those who possess them or use them illegally.
What are some purposes for which “Assault Rifles” are used?:
Even if we are talking about the “new” or “proposed” definition of “assault rifles”, which include 60% of the semi-automatic guns in production, there are legitimate uses in hunting for both long guns (rifles and shotguns) and handguns. Semi-automatic shotguns were originally developed for bird hunting and semi-automatic rifles today are used for many types of hunting, including the taking of big game such as deer, elk, caribou, moose and grizzly. Semiautomatic firearms are also currently used in competitive shooting, dominating the Service Rifle Class of national, international and Olympic shooting. Using the Department of Defense definition, it is generally true that a machinegun would not be commonly used as a hunting rifle. Placed in the semi-automatic mode, such a gun would certainly be capable of taking game. However, the law does not allow full automatic guns to be used in hunting.
What about Conversion to an Automatic Firearm?:
BATF Deputy Associate Director Edward D. Conroy in testimony before Congress said “the AKS (the semi-automatic version of the AK47) is difficult to convert [to full automatic] requiring additional parts and some machinery…” One police officer said it could take several hours even with the parts and equipment needed to make such a conversion. We respectfully withhold the details of why conversion is not easy in the interest of public safety . But even if it were “easy” to convert a semi-automatic firearm into an automatic one, the penalty is life in prison. Only substitution of the death penalty for life in prison could provide increased deterrence.
On June 11, 1984, the Massachusetts State Appeals Court ruled that Licenses to Carry Firearms can be — but do not have to be — “restricted” according to the reason for issuance shown on the back of the license. The court further ruled that the issuing authority might place restrictions on the reason for issuance. (See Glen D. Ruggiero v Police Commissioner of Boston, 1984). However, the State Appeals Court admitted the law was vague, and recommended that the legislature clarify its intent.
What affect did this ruling have on licensed gun owners?:
Individual police interpretation of licenses became a more exaggerated problem when, immediately following the 1984 ruling, Middlesex District Attorney Scott Harshbarger circulated a memorandum to police urging them to severely “restrict” licenses. Most importantly, the court specifically stated that it was possible for a person, found to be in violation of their “reason for issuance,” to be ruled to be in illegal possession of a gun. The punishment for illegal carrying under state law is Bartley-Fox’s mandatory 1-5 years in jail. (see the section on new laws below). The first persons to be caught under this ruling were two Wells Fargo guards in Springfield, who were arrested in 1985, even though they held valid (i.e. unexpired) Licenses to Carry Firearms. In other cases, persons with valid licenses have actually been convicted of unlicensed firearms felonies.
Has the legislature clarified its intent?:
Yes. As of January 2, 1991, a person with a License to Carry Firearms is exempt from the state’s Bartley Fox law. However, during the more than six years it took for the legislature to clarify this ruling, more than one licensed gun owner was convicted of the illegal carrying of a firearm.
Are restricted licenses still a problem?:
Yes. The new law did not change how licenses are issued, and thus did not prohibit a police chief from arbitrarily deciding what the “reason for issuance” shall be. A license holder, in possession of a firearm, could have their license to carry firearms revoked if the chief felt they were not carrying in compliance with the “reason for issuance.” Since each licensing authority has his or her own criteria for license “restrictions,” there are no written definitions of what may be covered. In some cities and towns, an individual with a “protection” license may carry anytime; in other areas, the license is linked to employment and limited to regular business hours. This can cause serious problems. Although a licensee could be carrying in compliance with the information given him by his or her own issuing authority, they may be travelling into another jurisdiction which has contradictory policies with regard to what may be allowed under the “reason for issuance.” Thus, license restrictions raise a lot of questions. For example, can a licensed private investigator carry after business hours, when he is most vulnerable to the persons he is investigating? Can a “target and hunting” licensee stop on the way home from the gun club to buy a quart of milk at the store? If a woman with a “sporting” license receives threats, does she have to re-apply for a new license before carrying the firearm on her person on a regular basis?
What are examples of “restricted” licenses?:
Since 1984, some licensing authorities (usually the police chief) have adopted a policy of issuing “restricted” licenses. The most common phrase is “Restricted to target and hunting”. Some communities do issue licenses for “protection” but limit those to “for employment only”.
How are “restricted” licenses issued?:
Authorities who issue “restricted” licenses prefer to use the applicant’s means of gainful employment as the criteria to decide which license they will be issued. Of the authorities issuing “restricted” licenses, many issue “protection” licenses exclusively to “special” police officers, security guards, detectives, investigators, business proprietors, professional people or their employees who are responsible for large sums of money, payrolls or bank deposits or for the transportation of very valuable merchandise.” Applicants who do not meet the employment criteria, receive licenses issued for “target and hunting”. Usually the issuing authority requires them to prove membership in a bona-fide gun club (average cost of membership $65.00). Neither state statute nor case law mandates that a firearm be carried in a certain manner (concealed or unconcealed) regardless of the reason for issuance. But some jurisdictions insist they have the right to impose such restrictions.
What would happen if licenses were “unrestricted”?:
From the time licensing began, in 1906, through 1984 all licenses were unrestricted. During this time, firearms licensees proved themselves to be law abiding and responsible. The Department of Public Safety states that only an infinitesimally small number of licensees ever come into conflict with any law — from jaywalking to firearms regulations. Further, Massachusetts’ firearms accident rate is well below the national average, and listed last of all categories of accidental death in Massachusetts. Thus, there would be no threat to public safety if all licenses again became “unrestricted”.
Other problems with “restricted” licenses:
Simple generalized phrases like “protection” and “target and hunting” do not indicate what other actions law abiding gun owners may do. If the police look only at the exact wording of the “reason for issuance” shown, it could cause a lot of confusion. For example, can a “protection” licensee practice at a target range? What about trips to the gunsmith for repair, or a gun show for exhibit or appraisal, or to a friend’s house to sell the firearm?
This policy seems extremely unfair. Is there anything that can be done?:
In some cities and towns, however, the police chiefs have taken steps to ensure that citizens are not entrapped by this court decision by issuing Licenses to Carry Firearms with the reason for issuance of “For All Lawful Purposes.” As a last resort, one always has the option to sue. The sad fact is, however, that an uncontested appeal in District Court costs an average of $1,500.00, well beyond the financial reach of most citizens.
Is hunting a safe sport?:
To teach prospective hunters various aspects of the sport, Massachusetts offers a free hunter safety program to all interested adults, and requires minors who wish to purchase a hunting license to take the course. By law, any hunting-related accident must be reported to the state. In a recent letter, Allan L. McGroary, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement, stated “State statistics do not support the elimination of local hunting based on the possibility of personal injury.”
How is hunting regulated?:
Massachusetts General Laws place restrictions on where people may hunt; the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife places strict controls on when hunting is allowed. No endangered species in Massachusetts are threatened by hunting. Individuals may post their land against hunters and target shooters. Massachusetts General Law prohibits: trespassing on land with firearms and the discharge of firearms within 500 feet of a dwelling or within 150 feet of a state or hard surfaced highway.
What do sportsmen do to help wildlife?:
As in many other states, any one who wishes to hunt, fish or trap in Massachusetts must purchase a license. The monies from these licenses goes into a dedicated fund used solely for the state’s wildlife programs. Therefore, further restricting, limiting or banning hunting would deplete the greatest source of conservation revenue. The Pittman-Robertson Act levied a 11% federal tax on the sales of all rifles, shotguns and ammunition as well as a 10% federal tax on handguns. This money is distributed back to the states, reimbursing them for a some of the costs of wildlife, hunter education and range development programs. In addition to hunting, sporting, fishing and trapping licenses, both federal and state law require the purchase of a special duck “stamp”. Monies from the sale of these stamps go directly towards purchasing and preserving duck habitat. The law also requires license buyers to purchase a special “land stamp”. Monies from these stamps are placed in a dedicated fund, used to acquire and preserve valuable wildlife habitat. The biggest threat to wildlife is not hunting, but habitat destruction. US Fish & Wildlife Chief John Turner said “The real tragedy [for wildlife] is pollution, pesticides, urbanization, deforestation, hazardous waste, lack of water and wet land destruction.”
What would be the effect if hunting were to be banned?:
Sportsmen spend $364,695,300. annually on hunting and fishing licenses, duck stamps, and related travel and equipment purchases in Massachusetts every year. A ban on hunting would remove the major source of income (sale of hunting and sporting licenses), causing a devastating effect on game and non-game programs in the state.
How is trapping regulated in Massachusetts?:
The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife oversees trapping regulations and seasons. Trapping in Massachusetts is highly regulated. Each trap has a “permanently embedded” registration number. Each individual trap and its owner, is registered with the state. By law, traps must be checked every 24 hours.
Where are traps set?:
Traps can only be set under a building, in a building, or under water. The building must be on land owned, leased, or rented by the trapper. Traps are not set near playgrounds, and places where children play. State law prohibits trapping “in a public way, cart road, or path commonly used by humans or domestic animals.” Mr. J. Hibbard Robertson, Senior Vice President of Woodstream Corporation, a major trap manufacturer said “In the almost fifteen years I have been associated with the trap business, I do not recall a single incident where anyone has approached us and claimed injury to a child.”
Are leghold traps a “vicious” way of trapping an animal?:
Leghold traps are not “cruel” and cannot “chop off’ an animal’s leg. After being trapped, animals are often found resting or sleeping and can be released unharmed if desired. “A Michigan study discredits the charge that leghold traps cause undue suffering or injury.” Other studies have shown that permanent leg or foot damage to the fragile boned red and gray foxes occur in less than 1% of the animals so trapped.
What is the purpose of trapping?:
Trapping is the most effective and humane method for controlling animal populations in densely populated areas. To quote from the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, “Sound management of fur bearing animals requires the use of traps… Sarcoptic mange, canine distemper, rabies and malnutrition are generally far less humane.” Leghold traps are recognized, accepted and endorsed by the conservation community. Wildlife experts agree that leghold traps are an essential and necessary tool in the proper and wise management of fur bearers and predators. The Center for Disease Control has stated it believes “trapping can help in managing animal populations to prevent overpopulation and thus reduce the potential for disease outbreaks.”
What kinds of animals are trapped?:
No endangered species is threatened by leghold traps, or any kind of trapping. Farmers across the state rely on trapping to control animals that damage their crops. Raccoons may look “cute”, but each year they do extensive crop damage and they can carry rabies, and roundworm (a parasite that is dangerous to humans). Trapping is used to control the state’s raccoon population.
MANDATORY TRAINING AND TESTING
What is Massachusetts’ firearms accident rate?:
The Massachusetts Bureau of Vital Statistics and Records lists eight categories of accidental death from the highest (#1) to the lowest (#8). Firearms-related accidents are #8 — last on the list. The firearms category includes civilian as well as police and military accidents. (For comparison, the firearms accidents are only 3% of the #1 category — automobiles.)
Would a mandatory program affect the accident rate?:
No. Rhode Island instituted a mandatory training and testing program in 1980 and spent over $245,000 of taxpayer’s money on the program in the first five years. Prior to implementation, Rhode Island’s average annual accidental death rate associated with firearms was 2 incidents. This rate has remained stable over the seven years of the program, proving this program has had no effect, beneficial or adverse, on the accident rate. From 1975 to 1985, the Massachusetts population increased by 8%, and the number of licensed gun owners increased by 35,000-40,000 annually. Total murder by firearms declined 15% and total firearms accidental deaths declined 33%.
How would a mandatory training and testing program be run?:
If the government were mandated to train and test only 1/3 of firearms licensees, taxpayers would have to pay for a new agency the size of our 45-million-dollar-a-year Registry of Motor Vehicles. To train and test all licensees would require taxpayer funding of an agency triple the Registry’s size.
How much would it cost to create a mandatory training program?:
According to a member of National Rifle Association’s Range Development Committee, the least expensive range to build in order to accommodate this type of training would be $75,000 for a 2-4 position indoor in an already existing building. Using the above number, therefore, it would cost the state approximately $1,188,000 annually, with no evident of a gain in safety or a decrease in accident rates.
Has the state legislature voted on this issue?:
Yes. The legislature has consistently voted against mandatory training and testing every time the issue has come before it. The most recent vote was 103 to 47 in the 1987 session. However, many police departments have a “policy” of requiring License to Carry Firearms applicants to take, pay for, and pass a course. It should be noted that the Greenfield District Court ruled this “requirement” illegal in 1981.
Is there an alternative program?:
Yes. Massachusetts already has a voluntary program involving NRA Certified Instructors contributing their time, sportsmen’s clubs contributing their facilities, and GOAL referring citizens to courses all across the state. To taxpayers, the entire program costs nothing. Best of all, this voluntary program works: Massachusetts’ firearms accident rate is well below the national average. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 269, Section 11 requires the Secretary of the Commonwealth to produce posters about the gun laws, and requires school superintendents to distribute the poster. However, this is not done. Adherence to this law, in conjunction with the continuation of our voluntary training and testing program and the establishment of school “Firearms Safety Days” (akin to Fire Safety Days), would further enhance Massachusetts already outstanding firearms safety record.
What is a “snub-nosed” handgun?:
Used interchangeably with the terms “snubbie” and “Saturday Night Special”, a “snub-nosed” handgun usually refers to a firearm with a barrel length of three inches or less. All three terms were coined by organized anti-gun groups and have been heavily used in the media, but never by firearms manufacturers. The term “Chief s Special” is also used because it is the model name of a two-inch barrel handgun that is carried by many police officers.
Are “snubbie’s” used for legitimate sporting purposes?:
Yes. So-called “Snubbie-shoots” take place at many sportsmen’s clubs all across the state. The average snubbie is quite accurate up to 3035 yards — perfectly adequate for many kinds of target shooting. Additionally, the FBI reports most criminal attacks take place within seven feet, making the snubbie a valuable self defense tool.
Is the “snub-nosed” handgun the criminal’s choice?:
No. Evidence shows that “the criminal’s choice” is any gun he can steal or make. An exhaustive, federally funded study, Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America, found that when asked what they would do if handguns didn’t exist, convicted criminals revealed they would cut down bigger guns and make “sawed-off’ shotguns — both federal offenses — to use in crimes.
Are “snub-nosed” handguns cheap to buy?:
No. The following is a list of the models and retail prices of five handguns with barrel lengths of three inches or less: Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief’s Special ($338.00), Smith & Wesson Model 66 Stainless ($404.00), Ruger Speed Six Stainless ($320.00), Ruger Police Service Six (288.00), and Taurus Model 85 ($223.00). Clearly, most “snubbie’s” cannot be lawfully purchased at a low cost. But why should price be a concern? Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America, found no proof that less expensive handguns are used more frequently in crime than more expensive ones. Further, while it is true that higher income whites with some college education are those most likely to own handguns, should guns be priced out of reach of law-abiding but less affluent members of society? In Restricting Handguns: the Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, author and civil-rights attorney Don B. Kates points out that prohibitions against the sale of “cheap” handguns originated in the post Civil war South. At that time, small pistols selling for 50 or 60 cents became available to recently emancipated blacks who, if armed, could have posed a threat to the racist Southern establishment. In Public Interest, author B. Bruce-Briggs states “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the ‘Saturday Night Special’ is emphasized because it is … being sold to a particular class of people.”
Who owns “snub-nosed” handguns?:
Next to police, the largest category of lawful “snubbie” owners is women. “Snubbie’s” are the perfect size for the average-framed woman, who prefers to carry a firearm concealed on her person rather than in a handbag. Because they are easy to handle and compact in size, “Snubbie’s” are also desirable for elderly and the handicapped, especially those confined to wheelchairs.
What are plastic guns and who manufactures them?:
Despite what you may have read, the idea that a new breed of plastic guns has been developed, capable of bypassing airport security systems, is a myth. The notion of plastic guns, or “hijacker” or “terrorist specials” as they have been called, was entirely created by the media. There are no companies that manufacture guns made entirely of plastic.
Do any guns have plastic parts?:
Most handguns and all long guns have had both metallic and non- metallic parts for many years. There is no such thing as an all-plastic gun capable of firing a bullet. The firearm that’s been referred to as the “plastic gun” is the Glock 17, which is 83% metal. It is the standard issue of the Austrian Army.
What do experts say about plastic guns?:
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official Ed Farrar told the Washington Times “we are not concerned (about the Glock) … we were until we made a test.” FAA Director of Civil Aviation Security Billie Vincent testified before a House Subcommittee that the Glock 17 is easily detected by all airport security systems. He stated that “… there is no current non-metal firearm which is not reasonably detectable by present technology and methods in use at our airports today…” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) testified in 1986 that the Glock contains a sufficient amount of metal to be detected by standard security systems. In fact, the BATF approved the Glock 17’s importation into the United States. Emanuel Kaphelsohn, President of Peregrine Corporation, in 1986 testimony, stated that the plastic gun issue “is a placebo which cannot be expected to have any significant effect on crime or terrorism, but will serve only to divert attention and energy from more realistic attempts to improve the security of our state’s airports and public buildings.”
Is there evidence that the Glock 17 can bypass security?:
In 1986, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson claimed that Pentagon security expert Noel Koch twice “got past” security checks at Washington’s National Airport with a dismantled Glock 17. However, Anderson’s column failed to mention that, at that same time, FBI agents “got past” the same airport security checks with several full-steel firearms, including a standard issue Colt .45 caliber handgun and a Beretta 9 mm handgun.
Is there a problem with America’s airport security?:
Yes. In 1985, a CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast placed the blame for the poor state of airport security on bad security administration. They cited human error, lack of employee training, and lack of employee background checks. CBS pointed out that even though airport security employees are entrusted with the most crucial role of airport security, many employees hold criminal records, are found inebriated on duty, and experience great discontent causing a high turnover rate for these minimum-wage positions. Attempts to abolish something that does not presently exist, only directs attention away from more important issues, such as dependable security systems. We should concentrate our efforts on the resolution of our existing problems rather than chasing non-issues.