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Waco Standoff and Assault Weapons

Regarding the article "Waco Siege Prompts Scrutiny of Agency," March 8: Seeing the Waco, Texas, cult standoff as the occasion for renewing a call for a national ban on assault weapons seems bizarre in light of the California State Patrol's finding that assault weapons are the least of their worries.

Useful assault weapons are difficult to conceal and are marginally superior to sawed-off shotguns, so most police departments rarely encounter them.

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In Waco, it appears that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) was out-thought and out-fought, but not out-gunned. It is strange that the media have space to lament that the cult's weapons could be purchased legally, but do not remark that the ATF acted more like cossacks than public servants. Articles on the subject also implied that any Second Amendment right is limited to sporting weapons.

Even the most liberal legal commentators acknowledge that our Founding Fathers intended an individual to have the right to weapons for protection against oppression.

The ATF's highhandedness is a mild example of how an unchecked government can act. William G. Dennis, Kelso, Wash.

The editorial "Target Assault-Style Weapons," March 4, is way off the mark. The attempt to blame a type of firearm for the ATF's failure in Waco, Texas is an attempt to take the easy way out. I have almost 10 years of experience as an armorer in the military and can tell you that the ATF has "state of the art" weapons. The tragedy in Waco goes beyond merely a type of firearm.

If military-style firearms are banned, only honest people who use them legally will be harmed. According to the United States Justice Department, these firearms are used in less than 1 percent of armed crimes. Criminals won't turn in their guns, so there will be no reduction in crime. So why have a ban on firearms? Chris Norburg, South Portland, Maine

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