Letters for October 19, 2017

De facto automatics

Re “R.I.P.” (Editor’s note, Oct. 5) and “Generosity in Las Vegas, inaction in Congress,” (Left Foot Forward, Oct. 5):

Both Brad Bynum and Sheila Leslie mention “automatic weapons” or “machine guns” when discussing the recent Las Vegas shooting. For people who consider themselves professional journalists, you are very sloppy with your terminology.

The term “semi-automatic” simply refers to the system used to insert a cartridge into the firing chamber. The trigger must still be pulled to fire one bullet at a time. Most pistols, hunting rifles and shotguns are semi-automatic. (The other option is a bolt action.)

Automatic rifles or machine guns are designed to fire as long as the trigger is held back. Only the military and a few collectors own automatic weapons. They are not available to purchase by anyone else, and they have been illegal in the U.S. since the 1930s. The public shootings over the past 20 years have all involved semi-automatic rifles or pistols.

By confusing the types of weapons, you are being unprofessional and doing a disservice to your readers. Perhaps your writers should take a gun safety class and learn more about the subject before you spout off and allow your ideology to get in the way of the facts.

Paul E. Johnson

Carson City

Editor’s note: We try not to be disingenuous with our readers, and making that distinction strikes us that way when discussing mass shootings and assault weapons. The term “assault weapon” usually includes semi-automatic weapons. As presumably everyone in the nation now knows, given the attention this matter has been given, a semiautomatic rifle can be altered into a virtually automatic one. That is why Slide Fire or bump stocks have gotten so much attentionthey cushion the shoulderand one weapon in Stephen Paddock’s hotel room was so outfitted. On its Facebook page, BumpFire Systems advertises the BumpFire Stock this way: “Did you know that you can do simulated full-auto firing, and it is absolutely legal?

Freeway lore

Re “Freeway change coming” (news, Sept. 21):

You reported, “Freeways in the Truckee Meadows are often sources of suspicion, given local history. Besides the Nugget bottleneck, the southern route of the 395 expansion was changed to accommodate some affluent residents in the 1980s. At Huffaker Lane, it suddenly heads east, missing the homes of the wealthy in the southwest, and then returns to its former trajectory after the Mt. Rose Highway.”

When the new segment of I-580 had public access preview a few years back, my wife and I were walking across Galena Creek Bridge and after overhearing part of a conversation between two folks nearby, I approached and politely asked for clarification of a point the man was making.

Come to find out, the freeway through Pleasant Valley to Washoe Valley had originally—and logically—been planned to overlay the path of now “old” 395. According to the gentleman, back in the day, Pleasant Valley was an exclusive enclave and when word spread of freeway construction plans, NIMBY went full throttle and following numerous court cases and legal proceedings, the freeway design was moved to its current mountainside location. Ironically—is that the right word?—the man said, in the many years which passed between initial planning and final construction, most of the folks who vociferously protested a freeway through their neighborhood had moved on, but NDOT was so deeply committed to the new route, it was built at the high elevation and at considerably greater cost.

And don’t get me started on the aforementioned Galena Creek Bridge and the $50,000,000 paid to the first construction contractor to just go away. Not NDOT’s proudest moment, but the freeway, all six lanes of it, is a marvel and I’m not complaining about the now 30-minute drive from Carson City.

Steve Waclo

Carson City

Poor Dave

Re “Best of Northern Nevada 2017” (Feature, Aug. 10):

I have to wonder about your process for collecting votes. Pretty obvious Famous Dave’s gamed the system pretty hard. I mean, Best Wine List, Best Martini, Best Salad, Best Server, Best Margarita, Best Ambiance, Best Dessert? This is a BBQ hole in the wall! I was surprised they didn’t get best sushi! Hopefully you consider this for next year.

Derek Southworth


Zorro the rat?

Re “Walled in” (Arts & Culture, Sept. 21):

Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat” Rides Again. It was fascinating for me to see—in Reno—the “Haight Street Rat” painted by street artist Banksy.

I am a fan of Haight-Ashbury, the Red Victorian Hotel on which the “rat” was stenciled, and the works and lore of Banksy, whose true identity is unknown to the public. What adds to the curiosity and fame about Banksy and his artwork is the fact that to some he is a vandal, graffiti artist, and outlaw. But to myriad others he is a skilled and celebrated artist of the first order. In some ways, Banksy is reminiscent of the fictional Zorro, whose identity was known to only a few, and who was deemed a vigilante but was idolized by the masses. Also, like Zorro, Banksy is foxlike, has never been identified or caught by the authorities, seems to delight in humiliating those who wish to stop him, and has been generous to “commoners” (in Banksy’s case it is through his dissemination of a number of his pieces of art).

While I was in the Sierra Arts Gallery looking at and thinking about the “Haight Street Rat,” I got the sense that Banksy views himself as that rat—chased but constantly elusive, dissident, despised by some, defying the established order, and with messages to deliver on behalf of outcasts through his painting.

Seth Bell