William Smith should be commended for his thoughtful letter to the editor, "Yelling fire in a crowded theater," appearing online Friday, April 16. And on one point, in particular, I agree wholeheartedly with him: Rights matter.
I grew up on a farmstead about a mile from the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota’s largest refuge spanning Bottineau and McHenry counties. It was almost as if my geographic proximity to that waterfowl haven demanded that I hunt when I was a teenager.
I haven’t hunted waterfowl or upland game for decades, though, and so I had to check to verify my memory. Yes, hunters generally can load no more than three shells into their shotguns.
For deer hunters, the limit on magazine capacities appears to be limitless. Even so, I knew a lot of successful deer hunters in my youth, and I’m certain most, if not all, would have been embarrassed to shoot more than a handful of times at their cervidae targets.
If any hunters out there want to admit they’d prefer having a larger magazine instead of being a better shot, please feel free to speak up.
In his letter, Smith stresses that AR-15 assault rifles and AR variants are not substantially more dangerous than other guns. In response to that assertion, I would ask Smith to consider the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
According to police reports, James Eagan Holmes fired 76 shots in the theater: six from a shotgun, 65 from a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle and five from a .40-caliber handgun. He killed 12 people, the youngest being a 6-year-old girl, and injured at least 70 others.
In other words, Holmes didn’t yell “fire,” he opened fire in a crowded theater.
It’s important to note that the Smith & Wesson Holmes carried that day had a 100-round drum magazine that malfunctioned; otherwise, Holmes would have been able to fire another 35 rounds at victims, as Smith puts it: “1 shot per trigger pull.”
Dean Hulse lives in Fargo.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.