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Australian firearms letter, and some facts

Thanks to a recent letter-writer for reading my letter and responding. I stand corrected partially, as the Australian National Firearms Agreement (NFA) banned “..certain semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns, and imposed stricter licensing and registration requirements. It also instituted a mandatory (as corrected) buyback program for firearms banned by the 1996 law.” Homicides by guns decreased by 23 percent between 1996 and 2013.

During the mandatory buyback, 640,000 banned firearms were collected and over 60,000 non-banned firearms were voluntarily surrendered. So there was a voluntary part in the program.

Two real facts/statistics for you. The first: “While 13 gun massacres (the killing of four or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before the 1996 NFA, resulting in more than 100 deaths, in the 22 following years (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres.” The second: Firearms deaths in Australia for 2016 were 1.04 per 100,000 people; while the United States in 2014 (last reported) had 10.45 firearm deaths per 100,000 people.

As I said in my letter, Australian hunters, sport shooters and others were permitted to keep their non-prohibited firearms but under stricter licensing and registration requirements. If we followed a similar path and if you have a legitimate need, want or reason for owning a firearm and you can qualify in the background and mental heath, etc., checks, you could still buy and own a gun. And while you don't need it you would do so "with my blessing."

Jim Welch

Santa Maria

African-American faith leaders should march

Hundreds of thousands marched nationwide Saturday including in the local communities of Lompoc and Santa Maria to demand we keep our children safe from gun violence.

I participated in the event held in Lompoc. I was overwhelmed with pride and joy to see so many people of our community care about the safety and well-being of our children. However, I am extremely disappointed and saddened that the faith leaders in our communities of color were MIA (missing in action).

Pastors representing the majority community were present at this event, but not pastors representing the African-American community. Gun violence directly impacts the African-American community on a daily basis. I am not a pastor or a theologian, but I read somewhere in the Bible that said, "evil prevails when good men do nothing."

Jeffery Hall


Epidemic of hate must be part of discussion

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The recent "March for Our Lives" demonstrations call for specific legislative action to curb gun violence at the national level. While the conversation surrounding gun control and the 2nd Amendment is incredibly polarized, it also rarely includes the role that hate plays in these tragedies.

We are experiencing an epidemic of hate. We see it very often associated with gun violence such as what occurred in Parkland, as well as the specific kind of gun violence unique to people of color. We see hateful things on the internet, social media, and in our face-to-face interactions. It was hate that inspired the attacks on Sept. 11 and hate that continues to inspire white supremacists within our own country.

It is not enough to ask for gun control; we need a greater social change. We must cultivate an environment where hate isn't tolerated, but also where it is actively opposed.

Margaret Barker