Saw 1 article and 2 opinion responses in the paper today. The first one here is from an interview with an ISP Detective.
Lack of knowledge clouds gun issue
By Scott Mawhorter
Publication Date: 01/29/08
Eric Zaderej | Exponent Photographer
Nathen Kaney a freshman in engineerfing and Brad Detert a sophomore in aviation technology target practicing in the Armory at Rifle and Pistol Club.
According to one state detective, a lack of knowledge contributes to many of the problems encountered with gun laws in Indiana.
Last week, members of the West Lafayette Police Department found a loaded AK-47 rifle in the apartment of a sophomore in the School of Management. The student was arrested on drug-related charges, according to police. In Indiana, however, possession of a semi-automatic rifle is legal, even without a carry permit.
Detective Steve Buckley of the Indiana State Police Department said there are separate procedures for handguns and semi-automatic rifles. To obtain either of them, it is necessary to fill out a background check.
"They do a background check to make sure you're not a felon and are actually allowed to have one of these guns," Buckley said.
He said to have either in a residence does not require any special permission beyond a background check, but carrying a handgun requires a carry permit, which is controlled by the local police department.
Police Chief Jason Dombkowski is in charge of issuing carry permits in West Lafayette and makes decisions based on requests he receives.
"I get them and recommend if they receive a permit through the state, or write a letter saying why I think they should deny them," Dombkowski said. He said he does not have the final decision on who does not receive permits, but he can decide who does.
Due to the law requiring a carry permit to have a handgun on your person for any amount of time, however, it is technically illegal to take one home from a gun retailer before first acquiring a carry permit.
But no carry permit is required for a semi-automatic rifle. Buckley was not sure specifically why this is the case, but he was able to offer an opinion.
"My assumption is that you can carry a concealed handgun, but a concealed semi-automatic is a bit more difficult to hide."
Eric Freuchtel, a senior in the College of Technology, is a member of the Purdue Rifle and Pistol Club. He said even though Indiana's gun laws are relatively lax, it doesn't necessarily reflect on the amount of gun-related crimes committed.
"In Israel, everyone is required to be in the military for, I think, two years, and it's not uncommon for teenagers to carry rifles as they walk down the streets everyday; but they have one of the lowest crime rates in the world," Freuchtel said. He compared gun laws of New York and California to Indiana's. Even though those states have the strictest legislation in the country, their crime rates far exceed Indiana's.
Buckley said if people knew more about gun laws, the frequency of problem situations would go down.
"A lot of the problems we run into is due to a lack of knowledge."
Here are the two printed opinion responses (to the original article by Mike Westervelt) in the paper.
The Exponent - Purdue's Student NewspaperLaws in place to prevent gun violence are adequate
Publication Date: 01/29/08
Mike Westervelt (Jan. 24 column, "Assault rifle discovery raises questions for Purdue students, city") should think over what it means to live in a free society. To us, the suggestion to turn in people for doing things that are legal (and aren't harming anyone else) is totalitarian. We're referring to the firearms, not the drugs - which are illegal at present.
The possession of a firearm, no matter the type, does no more harm than a computer, kitchen knife, or book of matches. The misuse of any of these items (hacking, assault or arson, for example) is already a crime, just as assault, manslaughter and murder are already applicable to the misuse of a firearm. In fact, the discharge of a firearm within the city, even without injury, is already forbidden save for exceptions for police and self-defense (West Lafayette City Code Sec 65.30). Also, federal law already has a provision for firearms use in conjunction with drug trafficking (U.S. Code Title 18, Sec 924, Part c). Also on the topic of law, it seems Mike has misrepresented Indiana law, which has permits for the carry of pistols, not for possessing one (Indiana Code 35-47-2 and 35-47-2.5).
The idea that "good fences make good neighbors" is meant to convey the idea of not intruding on other people's lives ﾐ exactly the opposite of what Mike suggests. Additionally, his proposed solution of registration or banning goes against a state law aimed at keeping laws uniform across the state (Indiana Code 35-47-11). Lastly, Mike's belief that laws would "prevent another Virginia Tech incident" is invalid, as Virginia Tech was a "gun-free zone" at the time.
Senior in the School of Technology
Senior in the College of Science
The Exponent - Purdue's Student NewspaperLike free speech, right to own firearm is protected
Publication Date: 01/29/08
Reading the commentary that Mike Westervelt wrote ignited a spark inside of me and prompted me to write this letter.
It is the person's right to own the firearm ﾐ even if it is an assault weapon. The assault weapons ban of 1994 did not keep people from owning assault weapons during that ten year period, it only kept them from buying these weapons. The question of whether a person should own a weapon like that is not a question at all ﾐ it is their Second Amendment right. And contrary to what Mike said, the Second Amendment does not rule out any weapons. There are special licenses to purchase certain firearms, but those people have the right to own assault weapons, bazookas, machine guns, etc.
The marijuana is a much bigger deal to me, because it is actually ILLEGAL, unlike owning the firearm. I live in a house just off of campus where there are at least five guns in the house at one given time. We are all qualified to have them and no one can stop us. Some people need to be more open-minded; the right to own a firearm (assault weapons included) is just as much of a right as it is to write this letter, or for the the columnist to write the article.
Firearm owners don't gripe at people about speaking their mind, but pro-gun control people sure do like to bash us.
Freshman in the College of Pharmacy