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The flag in front of RBHS hangs at half mast Dec. 21. Flags hung at half mast throughout the week to remember those who passed away in the Netwon shootings last Friday. Photo by Daphne Yu

Recent shootings show need for assault weapons ban

The flag in front of RBHS hangs at half mast Dec. 21. Flags hung at half mast throughout the week to remember those who passed away in the Netwon shootings last Friday. Photo by Daphne Yu
The flag in front of RBHS hangs at half mast Dec. 21. Flags hung at half mast throughout the week to remember those who passed away in the Newtown shooting last Friday. Photo by Daphne Yu

One week ago, Adam Lanza apparently walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 20 children and six adults. He had shot his mother in the head before arriving at school.

The weapons he used to commit this heinous act were a 10mm Glock and a 9mm Sig Sauer, according to the New York Times. In addition to the pistols, Lanza used a semi-automatic .223 caliber Bushmaster rifle.

In July, James Holmes walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Witnesses say he killed 12 and injured 58 with two Glock handguns, a Remington 870 Express tactical shotgun and a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P15, very similar to the gun Lanza used in Connecticut, according to the New York Times.

These two assault rifles would have been illegal from 1994 to 2004 under the assault weapons ban signed by President Clinton on Sept. 13, 1994. This ban should have never expired, and since 2004, no attempt to renew the ban has even reached the floor of the House of Representatives for debate.

Opponents of such a ban say it violates the rights under the second amendment. The amendment states that “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Now, the point of this amendment is to prevent the people from an attack, to form a militia. I don’t think that more than 88 weapons per 100 people in our country is “necessary to the security of a free state.”

An outright ban on firearms is not necessary. People with gun licenses, though, should still be allowed to own hunting rifles, shotguns and non-automatic pistols.  

However, semi-automatic firearms — like the .223 Bushmaster, which fires more than 600* rounds per minute — are not necessary for civilians.

Companies like Freedom Group International, which manufactures Bushmasters, designed semi-automatics for one purpose: to kill humans. They were not designed to hunt, nor to defend. They were designed for soldiers to kill as many enemy combatants as possible. There is no reason for a civilian in our country to own one.

We do not live in Syria. Our government doesn’t murder innocent citizens. We do not need to defend our liberties against a tyrannical dictatorship. There is no way, in our country founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that a president — any president — would attempt to violently repress the people.

So, in light of the recent events — according to the Washington Post there were 13 mass shootings in 2012, causing 81 innocent deaths plus the deaths of  nine shooters — we must look again at an assault weapons ban. America has about 3.2 gun deaths per 100,000 people, higher than the second-most by a developed country (Chile), which has around 2.2. It’s not a category we as a nation should pride ourselves as being a world leader in.

The National Rifle Association released a statement Dec. 18, four days after the shooting, saying how they feel “saddened” for the victims. Sorrow will not prevent the victims of the next massacre. Their “meaningful contributions” won’t stop another shooting.

While politicians like President Obama and Sen. Joe Manchin say they will propose a ban in the next legislative session, it’s hard to believe them. They are, after all, politicians. But we live in a republic, a representative democracy, where our congressmen follow the will of the people. So if we want a ban on semi-automatic weapons, then we should make sure our representatives give one to us.

Call your national representatives; email them; write letters; tweet at them; post to their Facebook page — make sure your voice is heard.

*The article original said the Bushmaster .223 fires 800 rpm. Only the fully automatic version fires that fast. The semi-automatic fires 600 rpm, still incredibly fast.

By Brett Stover

This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.

Gun control has been a touchy topic for decades. What is your opinion?

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max peterson April 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Beer kills many significantly more people each year than assault rifles. Shouldn’t we first eliminate beer to save more lives?

Morgan January 10, 2013 at 8:26 am

I also believe that civilians do not need these types of guns. It’s just not necessary. I hope the House of Representatives renews this ban soon so these tragedies don’t continue occuring.

JW January 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Here’s the paradox: If that GOOD person shot the BAD person with the gun, does that makes the GOOD person BAD? I mean, to conservatives, ever heard of ‘thou shalt not kill’ from the Bible?

Alex Burnam December 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I agree with Maria wholeheartedly (I know, shocking!). This situation should be meriting an outcry for improved mental healthcare as opposed to increased gun control.

In regard to your car point (just because I love to argue and I drive my car really fast far too often) sometimes in emergency cases, much like with weapons, people need to illegally use their vehicles.

But back on topic, guns don’t kill people, bad people with guns kill people, and, surprisingly enough, GOOD PEOPLE WITH GUNS STOP BAD PEOPLE WITH GUNS. Bad people will always be able to get guns regardless of whether or not they’ve been outlawed. If you take the ability to obtain a weapon from those who do abide by the law, you leave them helpless should another tragedy occur.

Maria Kalaitzandonakes December 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm

A couple quick points..

1. Making something illegal doesn’t make it disappear (case in point – drugs.) It just makes the market riskier and more violent.

2. Practicality is not always what should decide legality. Practical cars only need to go to about 80 miles per hour, but we have cars that go much higher than that. The extra speed makes them more dangerous. Are they outlawed? No.

3. He could have killed all of those people with a deer rifle as well. Killers are horrible, but him having a Glock as a opposed to a deer rifle didn’t change much.

4. Guns shouldn’t be underestimated.. It has the ability to put a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 200-pound mugger. Or a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are many other merits of guns, I assure you. But I agree that mental health checks, background checks, and waiting periods are helpful.

I personally doubt that many politicians will have opinions on gun-control right now. There are too many voters who would be outraged.

Alex Gompper (@alxgmpr) December 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Although I completely support the “flexing” of every single constitutional right, from free speech, to, yes, gun control, I agree with the necessary implementation for some modified gun control. The idea of self defense by means of a AR-15, a weapon designed with the killing of enemies during times of war, is absurd and unnecessary in my opinion.

Psycological testing sounds like a decent idea to me, and I can’t understand why anyone would disagree with that. If you’re sane, then whats wrong with taking a test that will merely prove that? (Someone call me out on that to clarify my ideas there?).

Well written article Brett. (side note: the Bushmaster can only fire 800rpm in fully automatic models).


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