COURSEY: Local voices important in national gun debate

We all know that the pen is mightier than the sword, but is the keyboard louder than the gun?

The question arises this week as local officials jump into the national debate about regulating firearms. Rather than passing laws of their own, our local representatives are writing letters in support — or opposition to — efforts to address the issue on the national level.

The city councils of Petaluma and Santa Rosa voted this week to send letters in support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's effort to renew and expand the federal ban on assault weapons. The ban was passed in 1994 but expired after 10 years. Feinstein's new bill would ban weapons with magazines of more than 10 rounds, require background checks for certain weapons, establish a buyback program for weapons and exempt from the ban more than 2,200 guns used largely by sportsmen.

Other cities also have been asked by Feinstein to support the new bill.

But some citizens — as well as Petaluma Councilman Mike Harris, who opposed sending the council's support letter — say local officials have no business mucking around in the affairs of federal government.

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