Letter: Assault Weapon Ban is a Start

To the Editor:

Who is Wayne LaPierre? He is a graduate of Boston College, activist, millionaire and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. He’s the man who said, “There is no greater freedom than the ability to own a firearm to protect yourself.” At the NRA convention in April, he said, “If President Obama gets a second term, America as we know it will be on its way to being lost forever”.

Speaking of being lost, LaPierre and his NRA went missing the day after the Newtown killings, but later came back with his now familiar refrain, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” If his remedy of armed guards in every public school were adopted, there would be a 100,000 guards armed with a 100,000 guns and $100 million in new business for the gun industry. The NRA’s corporate partners, which help fund the organization, would reap record profits.

Congress has avoided the fiscal cliff and President Obama is expected to propose assault weapon legislation, similar to that enacted under Bill Clinton and allowed to expire under George W. Bush. While it wouldn’t guarantee our children’s safety, wouldn’t it be better to require those attracted to assault weapons to pass a criminal check and register their weapons, as we now register cars? Do hunters who want to stock the freezer need assault weapons? Do citizens who want protection need guns with 40-round magazines?

LaPierre believes that a heavily armed nation is a safe nation. He says of the NRA proposal, “I really wish they would take a look at this program because it is the only one out there that really makes children safe, and it’s cut accident rates to the lowest levels in U.S. history.”

He’s heard that gun-related deaths in the U.S. now exceed 30,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and will soon overtake auto-related deaths. He knows the NRA lobbied to block federally funded research into gun violence, and to limit physicians in discussing gun ownership with their patients when assessing family trauma.

LaPierre belongs to a time when it was acceptable for America to be awash in guns. Now the silenced young voices in Newtown call us to create safer communities, and assault weapon legislation is a first step.

Don McCabe