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Sportsmen's Club president opposes Bainbridge council resolution supporting assault weapons ban
The president of the Bainbridge Island Sportsmen's Club is asking the city council to reject a resolution that supports a reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons.
Alan Kasper, president of the nonprofit group that owns and operates the island's only gun range, said city officials should not waste their time with broad declarations that seem to speak for the entire island when they don't.
The city council is expected to consider a resolution supporting a new federal ban on the ownership of assault weapons at the council's meeting Wednesday.
"I can guarantee that there are a great many folks that won't support it. I am one of them," Kasper said.
Kaspar plans to speak to the council at its meeting tonight. He said others are likely to weigh in on the matter as well.
Kaspar said the resolution is off the mark, and in an open letter to the council, said the community should "recommend policies that have a chance of making a difference rather than same-o, same-o tried and failed policies of the past."
The resolution, submitted by Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos, is a statement in support of the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban that went into effect in 1994. The ban expired in 2004.
It also supports background checks on all guns sales, including at gun shows. A letter expressing the city's support of new regulations on firearms will be sent to state and federal lawmakers.
In his letter, Kasper said the council should consider the opinions of all islanders. He said the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newstown, Conn. "broke my heart" and he agreed that background checks for buyers should be conducted at gun shows. He also said a national database should be developed to help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, and also called for Hollywood and game manufacturers to "tone down" the violence in their products. Educational efforts should be increased, he wrote, and said schools should be posted with signs that state, “Armed Guards Present.”
"Sales from stranger-to-stranger, we got to do background checks and we don't do it," Kasper said. "There are mechanisms that will allow us to do that."
But the club's president draws a line when it comes to a national ban on assault weapons.
He said the previous ban was not effective, and the council should be supporting more effective measures instead.
"It's an endorsement of a policy that came out of Washington, D.C.; a reinstatement of an assault rifle ban," he said. "Look it up. You won't find any evidence saying that it helped one bit. You will find a considerable amount of evidence saying it was completely ineffectual. At the end of the day our children aren't any safer."
"I've lived in England and when people had guns in their home, they were safer," he added. "When they took away the guns, crime increased."
Kaspar would rather have a broader conversation within the community about the issues and said the attention on the issue on Bainbridge Island is misplaced.
"If you are going to consider gun bans and things like that, shouldn't you run for Congress or higher office," Kasper said. "We just have some individual saying that, 'This is my opinion and everyone on the island feels the way I do.'"
The city council's meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23.