A letter to my State Senator

Subject: Re: Weapons Restrictions Amendments
    Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 23:01:37 -0700
   From: Spaldam
       To: John Valentine



John Valentine wrote: (proceeded by ">")
>Dear Mr. Spaldam,
>Thank you for your letter expressing concern about additional gun
>control.  I appreciate you. taking the time and effort to contact me on
>this issue.  As I hope you are aware, I have consistently voted against
>additional gun control legislation.  The majority of Republicans in the
>Senate agree with your basic position and share many of the concerns
>you outline. Unfortunately, between 65% and 80% of the voters of Utah
>do not support our position.


Your 65% to 80% poles are misleading by what I have seen (not to mention
that such a large variance in poles shows a great deal of error in those
poles).  80% to 90% of everyone I know dose NOT agree with more gun
control laws.  A friend of mine did his own pole at school and found
that most people who were for more gun control had no idea what kinds of
gun control laws there currently are, and yet the majority still said
they wanted laws to stay the same or become more lenient.
If someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to keep guns out of
schools, as a general rule, I'd say yes.  I don't want young kids
walking around school with guns.  However, responsible citizens are not
going to be a threat, but rather a protection in schools and any were
else for that matter.  Collages and high schools with organized gun
clubs and other such competitions are valid reasons to have guns
involved with school activities.

If a teacher at Columbine had a concealed weapon they could have put
an end to the terror very quickly and saved many lives.  What we need is
to better educate the public on what is already being done, and put
stronger enforcement on the current laws.  The media has been feeding
on the fears of the public, and has failed to report on incidences were
law abiding gun owners have put quick ends to public shootings; most the
time without even firing a shot.

Much of what you are trying to pass will do nothing to help further
protect Utah families.  These laws would have in no way stooped any of
the shootings that happened in Utah over the last year, and both
shooters were let off way to easily.  If they want to plead insanity,
that's fine, but they still need to serve there time whether it be in a
correctional facility or a mental institution.  They should not have
been let off and only charged with misdemeanors.

>you outline. Unfortunately, between 65% and 80% of the voters of Utah
>do not support our position.
>They feel a real need to have additional legislation to protect them
>and their families.

The laws you are trying to pass will make it HARDER for law abiding
citizens to protect there families as well as there neighbors.  This
is what most people don't seem to understand.  As a general rule states
with more lenient gun control have less violent crime (take Texas for
instance), were states were gun ownership is illegal (an obvious
violation of constitutional rights) violent crime is impossible to
control (take New York for example).

Any restrictions added to concealed weapons permit holders will be like
adding restrictions to licensed drivers with near perfect driving
records just because a group of people complained that they didn't like
how or what they drive.  Weapons permit holders have a better track
record then the "average" person when you consider that less then 1/2 of
1% had there licenses revoked last year (better percentages then for
driver licenses).  Their already are ways to keep permit holders from
taking there guns on private land were they are not wanted.  Many
churches have already exercised this right, and every permit holder I
know is honoring those wishes.  I even know of one house hold were my
permit holding friends will not take there guns because the lady of the
house is paranoid about them.  She has no reason to fear, nor does the
general public, yet my friends honor these wishes (as do I) while
wondering why such fear exists.  The only reason we can find is a lack
of knowledge and understanding.

If you must put a requirement on the shooting ability for those wishing
to obtain and maintain concealed weapons permits, I would suggest that
the restriction not be allowed to ever become any harder to pass then
that which is required of our law enforcement agencies.  It might not be
a bad idea to add such a claws into any such bill to push our law
enforcement agencies to actually require regular testing.  I know a few
police officers on a personal basis, and my experience with them is that
they are more careless with there fire arms then the concealed weapons
permit holders I know.  I've even heard it said that concealed weapons
permit holders are more familiar and careful with there weapons then
most police officers.  My understand is also that there is very little
requirement put on the shooting skills of police officers.

The truth is that most gun fights happen within close range and do not
require a skillful shooter to hit the intended target.  Most skillful
shooters will have a hard time when it comes to moving targets as it is,
and thus creates an eliminate of equalization between olympic style
shooters and someone who just knows how to point in a general
direction.  How you shoot in a gun fight has much more to do with other
factors then it does with how well you can hit a stationary target.
Such restrictions will have little effect on the safety of permit
holders no matter how strict such requirements are made, but it does
have the potential to keep perfectly able citizens from obtaining
permits.

Requiring concealed carry permit holders to request permission to carry
a gun on private property completely undermines the purpose of having a
CONCEALED weapon permit.  It puts them in danger of being a target just
as the first target a Columbine was the only other armed person in the
school (an on duty police officer).  Such a restriction is NOT necessary
NOR is it a good idea.

>This puts us in a very dangerous situation.  We can do nothing, but be
>voted out of office and allow Democratic control, which will ensure
>more restrictions; or we can try to craft legislation that attempts to
>give protection and still protects individual rights.

Sen. Terry Spencer withdrew bill 79 after overwhelming opposition by
Utah's law abiding gun owners.  However, he introduced bill 153
"Criminal Penalty Amendments."  This is a scheme to increase the
possible sentence for a list of misdemeanors to 13 months instead of the
current 12 months or less.  The SOLE PURPOSE of the bill is to prevent
anyone ever convicted of these offenses from ever owning a gun again.
The devious part of this scheme is that supporters could claim they did
not vote for a gun control bill, and then blame it on the federal law
which bans possession of guns by anyone convicted of any crime that can
be punished by more than one year in jail.  This alternative given for
bill 79 is even worse the the original.  This a classic example of back
door politics, and it gives me a bad impression of Utah law makers that
would support such a bill.  If these misdemeanors are really that bad
they should considered for evolution to Felonies, and I suspect that
they do not warrant such action to begin with.  One thing I'm certain of
is that this increase in sentence length will not cause a single person
to spend more time in jail.

Is this what you call protecting individual rights?  I hope not.
I find that most gun owners and pro-gun individuals do not think these
laws will pass because they are just too unbelievable.  I hope they
don't pass, and I do find most to be very unbelievable.  My main concern
is towards our constitutional rights; especially the second amendment.
The more gun control that gets passed, the weaker the 2nd amendment
becomes, and the weaker any part of our constitution gets the weaker the
constitution as a whole becomes.  There are many such attacks on our
constitution, and I fear that these attacks will destroy this nation.
You have allowed yourselves to play right into the hands of anti-gun law
supporters.  If these anti-gun laws pass, the democrats will have
exactly what they want to satisfy the demands of anti-gun lobbyists, but
only for the time being as they will not stop until they are stopped. Do
not let there plan to continue forward just as they hoped it would, and
do not allow yourself to be a pawn in there hands.

>or we can try to craft legislation that attempts to
>give protection
>and still protects individual rights.
>We welcome your input as we attempt to achieve the latter.

In then next election I plan to do everything I can to make sure only
pro-gun candidate are elected (or even run for that matter), and it
would appear that the majority of the current law makers do not fit into
this criteria (your actions speak much louder then your words).  If you
want some alternative solutions, do nothing for now (I'd bet that most
of it blows over) unless your efforts are toward educating the people on
the truth of what gun control does, and toward protecting the second
amendment.

Allow the PTA to push their petition forward.  Let it be voted on, and
when it is shot down by the voters we will see what most voters truly
want.

Bad gun control is not only being brought on by law makers, but also in
courts through reckless laws suites that could bankrupt companies that
are lawfully making weapon intended for self defense and safe
sportsmanship.  Such laws suites are as bad as suing a company that
makes hunting knifes just because one was used by a criminal as an
assault weapon.  It is absolutely imperative that we stop such reckless
lawsuits in our nation, and I believe that bill 199 is a good step
towards stopping such recklessness.

House Bill 176 makes records available of adjudication's as mentally
incompetent, involuntary commitment to mental institutions, and pleas of
not guilty by reason of insanity.  Such individuals should not be
allowed to own fire arms, and I would add to that list, individuals
taking medications for serious mental illnesses that my potentially
become violent.  If such individuals stop taking there medications, or
have a bad turn of events we can end up with shootings such as what has
happened in Utah over the last year. This is currently the only bill
that might have done something to stop one of the major shootings that
happened in this past year.

In closing Mr. Valentine, if you are more concerned with getting votes
they you are about doing what's right, then I do not believe you belong
in office.  I have suspected this about the majority of elected
officials in the country, and I'm sad to say you have only strengthened
that belief.  I have lost a lot of confidence and trust in Utah's
elected officials in the last few months, and it will take a good amount
of work to gain it back. I plead with you to not make a mistake that
will put criminals at ease, infuriate gun owners, and make it harder
for law abiding citizens to protect the ones they love as well as their
neighbors.

Thank you for your time.

>Sincerely,
>Senator John L. Valentine
>>>> Spaldam 01/03 3:28 PM >>>
>>S.B. 79
>>          1     WEAPONS RESTRICTIONS AMENDMENTS
>>          2     2000 GENERAL SESSION
>>          3     STATE OF UTAH
>>          4     Sponsor: Terry R. Spencer
>>          5     AN ACT RELATING TO THE CRIMINAL CODE; CREATING
>> CATEGORIES FOR
>>          6     PURCHASE AND POSSESSION OF DANGEROUS WEAPONS; DEFINING
>> VIOLENT
>>          7     MISDEMEANORS FOR THE PURCHASE AND POSSESSION OF
>> FIREARMS; ALLOWING
>>          8     THE BUREAU OF CRIMINAL IDENTIFICATION TO ACCESS
>> JUVENILE COURT
>>          9     RECORDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR
>> FIREARM
>>          10    PURCHASES; AND MAKING TECHNICAL CHANGES
>> After reviewing this bill I have developed some concerns about it.
>> First of all if these "Violent Misdemeanors" warrant a loss of rights
>> then perhaps they should be made into felonies.  I'm concerned this list
>> of misdemeanors will give an easy way to further restrict people from
>> legally obtaining guns simply by adding to the list and lengthening the
>> proposed three year period.
>> I'm also concerned about allowing the Bureau of Criminal Identification
>> to access juvenile court records.  There is good reason why these
>> records are kept secret, and I'm concerned that this would give too much
>> leeway to the Bureau.  These records reflect a time in a persons life
>> were they are doing a lot of learning and growing, and do not
>> necessarily reflect the type of person they currently are.
>> I'm not entirely in disfavor of the purposed changes and additions to
>> the law, but it would seem that many laws designed to keep weapons out
>> of the hands of criminals currently aren't being informed.  My
>> understanding is that Utah is NOT prosecuting convicted felons who try
>> to buy guns.  This brings up a question as to how enforceable the
>> purposed changes would be, and if they are not going to be enforced,
>> then there seems to be no point to most of the purposed changes.  They
>> would potentially do more harm them good.  I would ask that we focus on
>> enforcement of existing laws, and education of the people.
>> The following is something I wrote in hopes that it would get
>> distributed to help citizens of this state to better understand the
>> views of a concealed weapons permit holder, and how such a permit holder
>> can actually be an added security to our society.  I would appreciate it
>> if you would take the time to read it over and consider the possible
>> abuse and misuse of the purposed act.  Thank you for your time.
--
Späldàm - http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/nevada/885/




E-mail I revived to that spawned the above e-mails:

      Utah Shooting Sports Council E-mail Action Alert
   Date:       Mon, 03 Jan 2000 18:39:33 -0700
   From:      "USSC"
A coalition made up of the Utah Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the Utah
Education Association (teachers union), some non- LDS church leaders, and
assorted anti-gun extremist is trying to get an anti-gun initiative on the
November 2000 general election ballot.  This deceptively titled "Safe to
Learn, Safe to Worship Act" will prohibit licensed concealed carry permit
holders from carrying firearms in houses of worship, universities, schools,
and private homes. The coalition is busy collecting the thousands of
signatures needed to get it on the ballot.  If enough signatures are obtained
in the required number of counties by June 1st, it will appear on the November
2000 ballot for passage or defeat by Utah voters.
The news media spin is that the initiative is needed to keep guns out of
schools.  They have created the impression that this will stop juveniles, gang
members or psychos. This is false.  This initiative is not aimed as Harris and
Klebold type juvenile gunmen, or serial rapists, or murderers, or carjackers,
or kidnappers. This is aimed only at the 30,000 Utahns with concealed carry
permits who have been cleared by the Department of Public Safety and passed an
FBI background check. The above mentioned bad guys are already banned from
having guns in schools, churches, or anywhere else by existing laws, but you
won't hear that from the media.  Most of the people gathering supporting this
initiative have NOT even read the complete initiative, and do not understand
what it actually requires.
Every gun owner needs to fight this proposal.  This is NOT just about
concealed carry permit holders.  This is a major assault on the ability of law
abiding citizens to possess guns for self defense.  It is also part of a
larger campaign to relentlessly enact restrictions on the legal manufacture,
sale, transfer, ownership, possession, or use of any type of gun by any
person. This includes deer rifles and trap or skeet shotguns, ugly assault
rifles and beautiful antique flintlocks, cheap surplus guns and expensive
custom guns, small-easily concealed guns and guns too big to hide.  They hate
all guns and gun owners and are targeting one segment at a time. The anti gun
fanatics are trying to nibble away at any edge they can find. This fight is
important to ALL gun owners, not just the 30,000 Utahns with Concealed Carry
Permits.  YOU and YOUR guns may be next on their list!
The language on this bill is complicated and technical. Few people will bother
to read it.  The full text of this bill is available from the Utah Lieutenant
Governor's Office at http://governor.state.ut.us/lt_gover/guninitiative.htm.
You need to review this and tell everyone you know to REFUSE TO SIGN THE
PEITITIONS to put the initiative on next year's ballot.  You especially need
to talk with parents of school age children and others who attend PTA meetings
and encourage everyone to speak out against this initiative in the PTA
meeting.
Ten points to keep in mind when discussing the initiative:
(1)   There has never been a shooting in a school caused by a concealed carry
permit holder anywhere in Utah or the nation.
(2)   Two of the recent school shootings were stopped by private citizens with
guns.  The shooting in Pearl, Mississippi, was stopped when the assistant
principal retrieved his gun from his car and confronted the shooter.  No shots
were fired.  The shooting at the Edinboro, Pennsylvania, school dance was
stopped when a citizen leveled a shotgun at the attacker and told him to stop.
Again no shots were fired.  These are details that the media tries to hide.
(3)   Research by Professor John Lott of Yale University (formerly with the
University of Chicago) reveals that most mass public shootings take place in
gun free zones.  Places were the attackers know they will not meet any armed
resistance.
(4)   Even radio's strongest supporter of children and safety, Dr. Laura
Schlessinger, has decided that allowing law abiding citizens with permits to
carry concealed weapons is a good idea, including in schools and churches. You
can read Dr. Laura's column in the October 10, 1999 Deseret News.
(5)   This initiative defines a public or private pre-school or child care
facility as a school.  This means if you home school or do any day care in you
home you could be barred from having guns in you home.
(6)   If you take night classes at any school in the state, and have to walk
out to a dimly lit parking lot at night you will be unable to protect
yourself.
(7)   This will ban hunter safety classes, gunsmithing courses, JROTC owned
guns, competitive shooting sports, and even guns in museums on school or
church property.
(8)   This initiative would require a concealed carry permit holder or any one
legally in possession of a gun to get special permission to enter a private
residence with a firearm, making their carrying of a gun common knowledge.
They will become a more likely target for a criminal seeking a gun..
Convicted rapists, child molesters, murderers, drug dealers, burglars, or even
people like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer do not need to ask special permission
to enter a private residence.  But law abiding citizens will have to ask
first!
(9)   Churches and Houses of worship already have the power to keep concealed
carry permit holders off their property.  Mere posting of a sign or verbal
notification to permit holders is sufficient to forbid them from entering when
armed.
(10)  Some religious leaders reportedly support the ban on guns in churches on
theological grounds, claiming that guns have no place in sanctuaries or places
of worship. If they don't want guns on their property they ALREADY have the
means to ban them. The theological objection to guns is hypocritical, as these
leaders are happy to make exceptions for on and off duty police officers.
Imposing theological positions by passing laws is a clear violation of the
separation between church and state. Religious groups should be allowed to
worship as they see fit, free from government imposed rules of any sort. Will
these same churches support a ban on communion wine because it is offensive to
the theology of some other churches?