What is an 'assault weapon'?
Regarding the April 17 editorial, "Obama's too cool on gun restrictions": A major problem with the assault weapons ban was that there is no clear definition of an "assault weapon."
Guns often fell under the ban based on trivial, cosmetic qualities. The addition of a pistol stock to an otherwise legal semi-automatic rifle could make its owner liable to felony prosecution for building an "assault weapon." Likewise, removing a bayonet lug and replacing a threaded flash suppressor with a pinned one could make a banned design legal.
The most popular guns covered by the ban, such as the AR-15, are quite expensive and rarely used in crime. They are popular among recreational and competitive shooters for their high quality, easy customization, and relatively inexpensive ammunition.
I support enforcement of our laws against straw purchases and gun trafficking. I abhor the shameless attempt by antigun media figures, our politicians, and the Mexican government to shift blame for their failures onto the US. Only 17 percent of firearms seized in Mexico have been traced to the United States. Where did the rest come from?
The US needs a carbon tax
Regarding the April 14 article, "Who's going to get the carbon pollution credits?": A carbon tax is much simpler and more effective than cap-and-trade.
It is true that a carbon tax would add to the cost of domestic goods and thus have a decidedly anticompetitive feature. However, the cost impact of a carbon tax on domestic industrial users can be neutralized.
We would "recycle" the carbon tax revenue imbedded in their products back to them – but not in direct proportion to their carbon emissions. That way, the anticompetitive cost impact is offset while the incentive for efficiency and/or alternative fuels remains. This would also save us from the competing idea of imposing fees on imports to offset the carbon tax they did not pay.
The meaning of the 'tea parties'
In regard to the April 18 article, "Arguing the size of the "tea party" protest": The "tea parties" had nothing to do with race or political parties, and everything to do with bringing this country back to the Founding Fathers' vision of what America is supposed to be: very small, very weak federal government, very strong and powerful local government, and representatives who don't play games and who listen to their constituents.
San Diego, Calif.
Checks and balances have always kept America running In regard to the April 19 article, "Axelrod comment that tea parties are 'unhealthy' stokes militia fears": There appears to be a hysterical element to the conservative reaction to the current Democratic ascendency.
America and its liberals survived Reagan and the Bushes; America and its conservatives survived Carter and Clinton. The Constitution, with its checks and balances, has kept the opposing radicals within the lines.
We might not like the philosophy of the current administration, but there is no reason to lose faith in the structure of the American system of government.
Don't change US policy toward Taiwan
Regarding the April 15 Opinion piece, "A bold Plan B for North Korea": Author Ted Galen Carpenter suggests that some sacrifices may be necessary and worth the price of ending the North Korean nuclear threat. One of those suggested sacrifices was US policy toward Taiwan.
This is a callous and reckless idea. Taiwan, formally the Republic of China, is home to a thriving democracy of 23 million people and is the second largest importer of US agricultural goods in Asia. Taiwan is also ranked the 17th-largest trading nation in the world. Taiwan is further situated in a key transportation route in East Asia and holds great strategic importance.
Under current President Ma Ying Jeou, Taiwan has pursued a pragmatic and nonconfrontational policy toward China and maintained its position as a responsible stakeholder of security in the region. By needlessly sacrificing Taiwan's democracy and strategic value, Mr. Carpenter's "Plan B" would weaken US foreign policy, rather than strengthen it.
Director, Information Division
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston
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