Gun laws focus at Rotary meeting
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 20, 2013 | 1128 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ROTARIAN John Stanbery talked about guns and gun laws during a presentation to the Rotary Club of Cleveland.  Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
ROTARIAN John Stanbery talked about guns and gun laws during a presentation to the Rotary Club of Cleveland. Banner photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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“Guns and society” was the focus of a presentation by Rotarian John Stanbery at the Rotary Club of Cleveland Tuesday.

“This is a big issue right now. You hear a lot stuff in the media about it and there is a lot of misinformation out there. There are also a lot of cultural clashes here,” Stanbery said.

He said the current characteristics of a rifle that makes it an “assault rifle” has nothing to do with the mechanics of how the gun shoots, Stanbery said.

Legislation seeking to ban assault rifles was addressed.

“They’ll say, ‘Well nobody needs a gun that will shoot 100 rounds with one pull of the trigger.’ Folks, that’s a machine gun. They have been illegal since 1937,” Stanbery said. “Any legal rifle that is out there now shoots one bullet for each pull of the trigger.”

Other legislation seeks to limit the number of rounds in a magazine.

Stanbery said many talking about gun legislation do not know much about guns, and often use incorrect terminology.

“The real problem with this (assault weapons ban) is twofold. One it’s ineffectual. It won’t make any difference for mass murder and won’t make any difference for the violence in our country. The worst thing about it is that it creates a false sense of security,” Stanbery said.

Stanbery said there have been people in dangerous situations who did need a “high capacity clip” to protect them and their families.

“You ask, ‘Who needs a 15-round clip?’ A woman alone at home with her babies needs a 15-round clip,” Stanbery said, while recounting stories of women who had been in situations where people were attempting to break into their homes.

Stanbery highlighted how many legally use larger ammunition than weapons being termed as “assault rifles.”

The speaker also demonstrated how quickly a person can change out smaller magazines and hide multiple legal smaller guns on their body if they were trying to commit a mass murder or other violent crime.

None of the guns or magazines shown during Stanbery’s presentation were loaded.

He said simply banning high-capacity magazines does not solve violence.

“States with the lowest gun ownership rates average the highest firearm murder rates ... those with the highest gun ownership rates have the lowest homicide rates,” Stanbery said.

Stanbery said this information was based on comparing gun laws with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention homicide numbers.

“There is no correlation between gun ownership and the crime rates,” Stanbery said. “It’s our culture ... and nobody wants to talk about our culture because that’s difficult. It’s easy to ban an inanimate object. It’s hard to talk about the hearts and minds of people.”

The National Rifle Association has pushed for current laws to be more strictly enforced and for gun crimes to be prosecuted at the federal level.

According to Stanbery, when a law making gun crimes a federal offense was passed in Richmond, Va., gun crimes in the city greatly decreased.

Mental health is an important element in the gun discussion, Stanbery said. He said the NRA has pushed for more specific background checks.

While mass murders committed using guns are often highlighted and discussed, the worst mass murders in the United States have been committed by other means such as explosives and arson, according to Stanbery.

“Arsonists are actually the worst mass murderers that we’ve had,” Stanbery said.

The worst mass murders in the United States involving guns were all committed in “gun-free” zones, according to Stanbery.

Legislation being considered in Tennessee to allow a “highly trained teacher” to have a weapon on campus “could be a godsend for a small town that can’t afford SROs (school resource officers),” Stanbery said.

Many other countries have stricter gun laws than the United States.

“Sure they have less gun crime, but they have more violent crime,” Stanbery said.

These countries also do have gun crimes despite strict laws, he said.