New machine guns not sold in the state

Contrary to the hoplophobic, anti-gun letter in the Jan. 6 issue, semi-automatic, self-loading or autoloading rifles, including the ones listed in the letter, are not machine guns because they fire one shot with each pull of the trigger.

Machine guns, as long as they have an ammunition supply, fire continuously when the trigger is held back.

New machine guns are not sold to civilians in this country, only semi-automatic firearms -- rifles, shotguns and pistols -- are.

In some states (not in California), used, obsolete machine guns are sold as collector's items, but their sale requires background checks and special federal and state licenses for both dealers and buyers, and a heavy federal tax is collected each time they are transferred.

Semi-automatic firearms have a number of legitimate uses, including hunting, target shooting and self-defense.

David R. Russell

Berkeley

Learn truth before trampling on rights

A recent letter writer lamented the supposed illogic and moral degeneracy of gun-rights folk in their defense of our constitutional rights to dangerous weapons, particularly machine guns.

For myself, as a Second Amendment purist, I do believe that the Constitution guarantees our right to have and hold machine guns, but we need not quibble over Second Amendment hermeneutics here. The letter writer is evidently unaware that machine guns have been effectively banned in this country since the National Firearms Act of 1934. There were certain exceptions that were then subsequently tightened by the Gun Control Act of 1968, so the subject is largely moot.

Further, like so many of those who seek to disarm Americans, the letter writer is simply ignorant of reality in decrying the allegedly huge "homicidal impact" that machine guns have had "in the last 50 years." The actual impact, even if we include so-called assault weapons, a nebulous term of legislative art at best, and all other long guns in the tally, actually amounts to fewer than 3 percent of the homicides in this country.

The homicide weapon of choice, for whatever it's worth, is the handgun. Those who rail against ownership of guns and the supposedly violent nature of American society would do well to at least learn a few basic legal, technical and statistical facts before trampling on the rights of others. Ignorance is not a useful foundation for public policy.

Mark E. Slagle

Hayward

Turn old Bay Bridge into shopping venue

Driving across the new span of the Bay Bridge the last couple of times it occurred to me what an absolutely spectacular piece of architecture it is.

In contrast to the old bridge still standing there it is even more striking.

It occurred to me that Oakland could turn that structure into a great revenue stream. Instead of tearing it down, the old bridge could be turned it into a shopping bridge like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy.

A perpetual farmers market. A gathering for food trucks. Holiday fair and rent payment merchants.

It is an amazing piece of real estate with absolutely spectacular views. I see it as a strolling park and an opportunity to bring the public out without cars.

Think about it money coming in instead of money going out.

Anne Auburn

Walnut Creek

BART fares must not increase

Enough BART fare hikes!

BART General Manager Grace Crunican receives a $320,000 salary; her predecessor, Dorothy Dugger, received $330,000.

There are hundreds of BART executives and managers who, in the lyrics of HMS Pinafore, "stay close to their desks and never put to sea ... ."

According to BART officials, the 2,300 mechanics, custodians, station agents, train operators and clerical staff receive an average base salary of $71,000 and $11,000 in overtime pay. Additionally, BART employees pay only $92 per month for health coverage and contribute nothing toward their pensions. Where else do those with only high school educations receive this sort of remuneration?

Not a cent more for management or workers.

And it's long overdue that BART fares were rolled back to previous already exorbitant levels to encourage ridership and reduce Bay Area air pollution, among the nation's foulest. Recently, for an entire week, San Francisco's air was worse than Beijing's.

High BART fares countermand the point of our increasing Spare the Air days.

Michael Scott

Walnut Creek