Letter: Charles H. Helein, Leesburg

Editor: In response to the article on the town hall meeting held by Sen. Jennifer Boysko and Del. Wendy Gooditis, I have some observations on the comments of retired law enforcement officer Mike Taylor who it was reported bought his service weapon on retiring.

His concerns that certain proposals for the new gun control laws would make “my firearm an assault weapon. … So, you’re going to make me a felon for carrying the firearm that I carried for 26 years on the job,” raise the following questions, among others no doubt. 

The proposed legislation defines an assault firearm as reported in the article as: “a semi-automatic pistol or rifle with a fixed magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, or that accepts a detachable magazine and… [has] a folding stock, grenade launcher, or silencer. 

I have no specific knowledge of Mr. Taylor’s firearm he “carried for 26 years on the job,” but it is true that today’s most police weapons hold 15 rounds and hence would be subject to the new legislation as proposed. It seems doubtful that police weapons would include a folding stock, grenade launcher or silencer.

Mr. Taylor alleges he has twice had to evacuate his family because of threats for a person he arrested. If so, these circumstances need to be investigated and the facts surrounding them be included in the deliberations on the ultimate legislation that is enacted. 

But Mr. Taylor’s concerns and fears seem overstated. First, weapons owned by present duty and former law enforcement officers holding 15 rounds can be excepted from the ban imposed by the legislation subject to some safeguards. 

Presumably, all weapons carried by law enforcement officers are already registered and those with greater than 10 rounds would be an exception in the legislation. Similarly, 15-round weapons purchased by retiring officers would be excepted subject to the following requirements.

Records would be kept of the name, address and other relevant contact information of the retiring officer, and importantly, the details identifying the weapon, i.e., the make, model, manufacturer, and serial number that is engraved, cast or stamped (impressed) on the firearm frame, receiver, barrel or slide. Liability may be imposed if the weapon is used in any type of crime unless the retired officer can show that the weapon was stolen, taken without his or her knowledge, or other extenuating circumstances that the availability and use of the weapon could not have been caused by the negligence or other culpable conduct of the retired officer. 

The reality is that other persons in a family or other social group that has access to where the weapon is kept can gain access to weapons that that person does not own or have a right to control. And, of course, there is the risk of theft by unknown parties. Former police officers would be most aware of such a possibility. 

Therefore, the responsibility to ensure a weapon of a retired police officer is not used in a random or planed shooting or to commit a crime is a responsibility that a retired police officer should embrace and have no objection to that responsibility being imposed as a condition to his or her retention of what qualifies as an assault weapon. 

Reasonable gun control legislation as proposed, including defining an assault weapon as one with 10 rounds cannot be abandoned or weakened because of concerns like those expressed by Mr. Taylor. His concerns can be accommodated by approaches such as suggested here.

Charles H. Helein, Leesburg

8 thoughts on “Letter: Charles H. Helein, Leesburg

  • 2020-01-31 at 9:14 am

    I’ve been warning my LE friends for years these people would come for them, and here it is.

    Interestingly, the writer demands retired law enforcement submit to a registration (confiscation in the end) scheme and a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ burden imposed on the officer. Yet, in all of these impotent gun control boondoggles real criminals are always exempted.

    Democrats believe law enforcement officers are a problem. Wake up LEO’s.

  • 2020-01-31 at 4:45 pm

    Virginians have the right to keep and bear arms. The legislature lacks the authority to begin banning items based on nothing more than the whims of Mike Bloomberg who bought and paid for most of them. Bloomberg and John Bell do not get to decide my rights.

    Virginia is the 4th safest state in the nation. The proposed legislation is neither “common sense” or reasonable. And it won’t do anything to reduce crime or violence. In fact the reverse is true. Firearms are used by law-abiding citizens up to 2.5 million times per year. A CDC study from the 1990s proves it. And that study was buried because it disproved a huge number of gun control claims. Details of that study are found here: https://reason.com/2018/04/20/cdc-provides-more-evidence-that-plenty-o/

    None of these proposals would have changed any of the recent terrible crimes committed in the state. Our blackface governor and his cronies in the House and Senate know that. Yet they infringe the rights or law-abiding citizens for their own purposes.

    Mr. Helein is wrong on every detail in his suppositions. Calling virtually every pistol in Virginia an “assault weapon” does not make it so. Infringing the rights of Virginians to keep and bear arms keeps no one safer.

  • 2020-02-01 at 9:18 am

    The pendulum swings, and will swing back. The Republican party needs to be invigorated by new leadership and do a better job of stating limited government principles while being more inclusive of all races, creeds, colors, genders, ages.

  • 2020-02-02 at 12:30 pm

    Mr. Helein speaks like a true, self-righteous non-gun owner. He poo-poos the natural right we have as humans to defend ourselves.

    Then, his answer is to have a separate set of rules for a certain class by saying we will ‘allow’ retired law enforcement to be exempt for portions of the law, with a list of qualifications for the exemption, again, missing the point.

    By saying, “…doubtful that police weapons would include a folding stock, grenade launcher or silencer”, Mr. Helein again demonstrates his ignorance of special weapons and tactics used by law enforcement.

    If you have been paying attention, Chicago has the most strict gun laws in the country and yet tops the list for homicides by firearm. Guns have been banned in England and yet murders by stabbing have sky-rocketed. Face it, gun control does not work, even if you soften the meaning by prefacing meaningless feel-good legislation with nice words like, “gun safety” and “common sense”.

    Very simply, you can’t legislate the evil in other’s minds.

    If the constitutional rights being threatened don’t directly affect Mr. Helein, he dismisses their importance.

    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    —Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

  • 2020-02-07 at 4:34 am

    I agree with the letter written by Mr. Helein. I was at the town hall meeting and heard what Mr. Taylor said. He did receive an answer from Senator Boysko who calmly tried to explain what was proposed. However the room was packed by mostly guns rights advocates who either did not want to hear what gun control measures were being proposed in Richmond and/or attacked the motive behind the measures. This is the third meeting that I have attended in Leesburg where people wearing GUNS SAVE LIVES orange stickers came in mass and tried to intimidate others in an attempt to deny First Amendment rights to speak . I congratulate Senator Boysko and Delegate Gooditis for taking time form the Legislative session in Richmond to meet with citizens. They had one hour for a town hall meeting. They stated what legislation they were working on and then tried to conduct a Q and A period. Realizing that many were there to voice their concern about gun control laws including Red Flag Laws, they asked that if one person stated a position that others agreed to, they should raise their hands and wiggle their fingers. They also asked that, in order to allow others to speak on other concerns that comments not be repeated. That did not work and one gun rights person even gave each Legislator a RED FLAG of the Communist Party. Ironic that anyone would think that the Communists would allow such a town hall meeting. So people who wanted sensible gun safety laws were intimated and afraid to speak. Yes, the Second Amendment states” “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” BUT In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court affirmed for the first time that the right belongs to individuals, for self-defense in the home,[6][7][8][9] while also including, as dicta, that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding “the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” or restrictions on “the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”[10][11] State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing upon this right.[12]-(Wikipedia quote). Conservative Justice Scalia also opined that “weapons that are mot useful in military service-M-16 rifles and the like” are not protected.

  • 2020-02-07 at 4:55 pm

    Which one of the bills in Richmond addresses actual criminals who use firearms Tony? Which?

    • 2020-02-08 at 4:00 pm

      they all do, Chris – by working to reduce the number of guns being sold today, we might someday see less guns in our country by the time our kids have kids – your way, of course, does nothing now and tells our grandchildren that we did not care enough about their future to do anything

  • 2020-02-10 at 5:13 pm

    Ah yes YN. Because criminals care so much about my kids and your kids. Tell us, which one of these gun control laws increases sentences on criminals for using a firearm in the commission of a crime? Which one enhances prosecution of repeat offenders involved in firearm crimes?

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