Don’t allow ‘machine guns’ by expanding court’s ruling

The NRA’s beef about the District of Columbia’s gun law lies not in a discharge petition but more rightly with Dick Heller’s lawyer (“Dems pressured on guns,” July 23).

Heller specifically asked the Supreme Court to let him register his revolver. That is what he was allowed to do.

He and his lawyer were clearly aware of the District’s ban on “machine guns” that applies to semiautomatic firearms, yet he chose not to challenge that part of the law.

Now he and the NRA are whining that what they really meant was that he wanted a “machine gun” after all, and are demanding that Congress arbitrarily expand the Supreme Court’s ruling to provide him with his newfound gun of choice. Maybe Mr. Heller should have thought more carefully about what he really wanted before he went to the Supreme Court to get it. Nevertheless, it should not be Congress’s job to intervene to cater to personal whims that are unconnected to the Court’s decision.

Washington

Chemical safe for toys

From Robert Johnson, president, Child Safety Task Force

The recent article on the Feinstein amendment banning phthalates in the Senate version of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reauthorization legislation misses a few critical points (“Chemical companies, health groups spar on consumer safety,” July 14.)

The Breast Cancer Fund incorrectly implies that “hundreds of studies” show exposure to phthalates can cause human health problems. There are only a few isolated studies that claim adverse effects on humans from some phthalates, and independent toxicologists have concluded these studies use flawed methodology and questionable statistical treatment of data. Furthermore, the article lumps all phthalates together and does not cite their differences in safety and exposure levels. Diisononyl phthalate, or DINP, is the primary plasticizer used in toys, and DINP has never been found to be harmful to humans. Studies by the CPSC, the Centers for Disease Control, the European Union risk assessment organization and the National Toxicology Program have all concluded that DINP is safe for use in children’s toys.

The Feinstein amendment misses the question of alternative plasticizers. There is no alternative with the testing and safety record of DINP. A federal ban on DINP would force manufacturers to use substances that have been much less tested than DINP and that haven’t been evaluated for use in children’s toys by the CPSC.

This could potentially put children at greater risk.

That is why the Child Safety Task Force has requested that all substances that could be used as a plasticizer have the same level of testing and regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to give parents assurances that the products in their children’s toys are safe. We should not replace a tested and approved product with an untested one.

Arlington, Va.

McCain’s muddle

From Monte Hillis

The newly surfaced video in which Sen. John McCain said in 2003 that we “may muddle through in Afghanistan” is but another indicator that his status and honor as a war hero are no substitute for judgment in today’s world.

In the Arizona Republican’s obsession with the surge in Iraq, we see that he has repeatedly (and condescendingly) dismissed Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) calls for increased attention to Afghanistan (that preceded recent reports of the emergence of the Taliban). He scoffed at the notion of al Qaeda’s re-grouping in Pakistan despite significant evidence to the contrary. His trips abroad did not disabuse him of any misinformation he continues to present as facts.

Clearly, Sen. McCain’s focus/obsession has been on proving the success of the surge, while he has continually ignored the long-range purpose of quelling the violence: to assist the Iraqi government in establishing order. Sen. McCain continually ignores the facts and arrogantly presents himself as the expert.

Washington