Jul 29, 2014
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Letter: 'Not That Easy' to Ban Assault-Style Weapons

A reader responds to Heather Dean's letter from Saturday, Feb. 9.

Letter: 'Not That Easy' to Ban Assault-Style Weapons

Since the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting and the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a lot of people have shared a similar opinion as Ms. Dean. Ban Assault Weapons! Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

Do you honestly believe that if there had been an assault weapon ban that this monster wouldn't have murdered those teachers and children? Or that he wouldn't have been able to murder as many? I'm sorry but this isn't true. He would have found another way to do it.

You point to Aurora and Sandy Hook and blame the AR-15. I look at Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Luby's Cafeteria, Columbine, Dunblane, and the University of Texas. None of these monsters used assault-style weapons. In fact, with the exception of Charles Whitman in the University of Texas shooting, all of them had pistols in their arsenal. Virginia Tech, Dunblane, Fort Hood and Luby's Cafeteria used pistols exclusively. The shooters in Columbine used a pistol, shotguns and a carbine rifle. In fact, even the government agrees that assault-type weapons are very rarely used in crimes.

That's why people are afraid that this will steal their Second Amendment rights. Your sole criteria on whether they should be banned is based on the fact that some evil people have used them to massacre people. I've already shown you that this applies even more so to handguns. People are afraid that if the government uses your reasoning to ban rifles like the AR-15, they will apply the same rules to owning any sort of gun. A mad man could walk into a school and murder too many children with a musket if no one is there to stop him.  Should we ban muskets too?

You can't even define what an assault weapon is. There is no such thing. It's a bunch of hooey that lawmakers have decided on as a definition. They have decided that an assault rifle is a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine that has two of the five features that make it an assault rifle. These features don't change how the gun operates at all. They simply make the gun look scarier. An AR-15 without those features fires the same rate: one bullet per trigger pull. What happens when someone uses a non-assault rifle to kill people? Do we ban them too?

You are wrong when you say, “The way I see it, the Australian government took action without taking away anyone’s right to own firearms; they simply prevented the general public from owning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.” This is the furthest thing from the truth.

This is what Australia actually did. They made it nearly impossible for most people to own ANY firearm. I am quoting this from Wikipedia simply because it is the most concise summary of their laws but if you would like to read the laws in full, it's called the National Firearm Agreement.

Firearms in Australia are grouped into categories determined by the National Firearm Agreement with different levels of control. The categories are:

  • Category A: Rimfire rifles (not semi-automatic), shotguns (not pump-action or semi-automatic), air rifles, and paintball markers. A "Genuine Reason" must be provided for a Category A firearm.
  • Category B: Centrefire rifles (not semi-automatic), muzzleloading firearms made after 1 January 1901. Apart from a "Genuine Reason", a "Genuine Need" must be demonstrated, including why a Category A firearm would not be suitable.
  • Category C: Semi-automatic rimfire rifles holding 10 or fewer rounds and pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding 5 or fewer rounds. Category C firearms are strongly restricted: only primary producers, occupational shooters, collectors and some clay target shooters can own functional Category C firearms.
  • Category D: Semi-automatic centrefire rifles, pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding more than 5 rounds. Functional Category D firearms are restricted to government agencies and a few occupational shooters. Collectors may own deactivated Category D firearms.
  • Category H: Handguns including air pistols and deactivated handguns. (Albeit both SA and WA do not require deactivated handguns to be regarded as handguns after the deactivation process has taken place. This situation was the catalyst in QLD for the deactivation and diversion of thousands of handguns to the black-market – the loophole shut since 2001) This class is available to target shooters. To be eligible for a Category H firearm, a target shooter must serve a probationary period of six months using club handguns, and a minimum number of matches yearly to retain each category of handgun.

So you are wrong, Australia most DEFINITELY stripped the right to own guns away from everyone except for a select few people who could demonstrate a genuine need or reason. Not only that, but their murder rate hasn't gone down that much. Their murder rate with guns has gone down but they're still killing each other in other ways.

There are millions of people in this country who responsibly own firearms. I am not trying to diminish the tragedies we have seen but they are rare. We cannot let the actions of a few punish the rest of us. What we need to do is enforce the laws we already have to keep the guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.  Maybe we can take all of this focus on an inanimate object and dedicate it to getting the crazy people some help?

Patrick Lucas

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