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