Letter: Fixing Our Deadly Problem
To the Editor:
Like Ted Andress (“Guns and Gun Control 101,” Jan. 5 Forum), I’m bothered when anyone confuses a semi-automatic firearm (one trigger pull fires each bullet) with automatic ones (one trigger pull empties an entire clip in seconds). On that point we need to be clear. However, let’s also be clear when other facts get twisted beyond the breaking point.
Semi-auto assault weapons have key differences from sporting firearms, features that, when combined in one package, make them the weapon of choice in combat, carrying out a gang hit or mass homicides. These features include pistol grips, large detachable bullet magazines, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors, fingerprint retardant finish, etc. Though semi-automatic, many can be rocked back and forth in the firing position to speed up the spray of bullets to enhance lethality in close quarters. And the federal ban did include some particularly nasty pistols and shotguns no one would take hunting anything except humans.
As we all consider what specifically to do now after Newtown, remember that this class of firearm may be only 1 percent of the weaponry, but it’s responsible for 8 percent of the crime and, according to FBI reports, accounts for 20 percent of the deaths of police officers killed in the line of duty.
This time it makes sense to fix loopholes that allowed firearm manufacturers to skirt the law and make copy-cat weapons and glut the market. Grandfathering existing assault weapons — that is, allowing those already in private circulation to remain there — only sweeps ticking time bombs under the rug.
Finally, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre has a million reasons to maintain the status quo — $970,000 to be exact: that’s his yearly salary. He does speak for the NRA’s more than 5 million members. But what of the many millions of other gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA, or the millions of other Americans who choose not to own a gun?
The status quo doesn’t work, and more guns — in schools and everywhere — won’t fix our deadly problem. A better ban on assault weapons and huge clips will save lives.