For the second time in as many letters, the Republicans have tried to muddy the waters of the gun debate. In a recent Letter to the Editor, Kelly Ann Hart attempts to do this by accusing me of being ignorant about weapons and weapons policy.

 
First, let me state that I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment and a citizen’s right to bear arms; however, I stand firm against bullets designed to kill police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. 
 
 
Ms. Hart limits her definition of “cop-killers” to bullets “that can pass through police-issue body armor.”   Well, Assemblywoman Allison McHose, who Ms. Hart defends, was one of only five New Jersey Assembly members to vote “NO” on Assembly Bill A588, which sought to “prohibit possession of ammunition capable of penetrating body armor.”  So, even using Ms. Hart’s definition, cop-killer bullets are nothing Rep. McHose would ban from sale or possession in New Jersey.  Lest Ms. Hart or Rep. McHose call me a liar again, I call their attention to the link for Bill A588 at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A1000/588_R1.PDF
 
Rep. McHose’s record on “cop-killer bullet” legislation aside, Ms. Hart is unaware of, or is “conveniently” ignoring, the fact that the ballistic threat of a bullet depends on more than just the bullet itself. Variables include composition, shape, caliber, mass, length of the barrel of the gun, angle of impact, and impact velocity. Due to the wide variety of rounds and cartridges available in a given caliber, and because of the existence of hand-loaded ammunition, body armor that will defeat a standard test round may not defeat other loadings in the same caliber. This makes the issue of armor piercing bullets, or “cop-killing” bullets, a complicated one. Ms. Hart’s definition of “cop-killer” bullets is narrower than that which is generally accepted and narrower than how I used it.  To show just how arbitrary Ms. Hart’s distinction is, I’m including a link to a video of a non “armor-piercing bullet” penetrating standard-issue Level III armor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbgWi_NhMNg.
 

Ms. Hart also defends Rep. McHose’s position that a suspected terrorist should have the right to obtain lethal weapons because some of the names on the list are there in error. However, legislation like this has real-world consequences and it’s worth noting that, if Ms. Hart and Rep. McHose had their way, there would be nothing to stop people like Tamerlan Tsaernaev from obtaining weapons between the time they carry out their acts of terror and when authorities are able to identify them. I realize paperwork can be a hassle, but it’s hardly “life destroying”; especially when the alternative is the senseless loss of life. If believing that the right to not be gunned down by a suspected terrorist supersedes the right of a suspected terrorist to obtain a deadly weapon makes me “illiberal”, then so be it. 
 
 
Dr. Richard Tomko, Sparta
Candidate for State Senate