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Ban Semi-Automatic Assault Weapons

Daniel Lewin |
December 16, 2012 | 10:57 a.m. PST


Screenshot of local news coverage. (Michael Juliani)
Screenshot of local news coverage. (Michael Juliani)
When the news broke Friday morning of the attack on a Newport, Connecticut elementary school, Americans were shocked and horrified by the unimaginable evil laid before their eyes. We are grieving for the lives lost. We can’t help but picture ourselves in the place of the victims’ families, trying to comprehend the evil that exists in this world. We hug our families a little bit tighter when we realize that something like this truly is incomprehensible.

The national anguish we go through after an event like this is becoming tragically common. We’ve witnessed mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a Christian university in Oakland, California, a mall in Portland, Oregon, and now at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. At this point, is it really fair to say we are “shocked” anymore? How many times do we have to wake up to grieving facebook statuses from our friends and breaking news headlines on CNN before we stop pretending that shootings in the U.S. are unusual?

Anyone who tries to bring up gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy will be immediately accused of “politicizing” the tragedy, as if “politicizing” is a dirty word. But what does “politicizing” it actually mean? Certainly, our elected officials should not try to capitalize on tragedy for personal or partisan political gain. But that does not mean we shouldn’t acknowledge and address the underlying issues of the shooting, including gun control. So-called “political opportunists” who raise this very relevant topic of discussion related to gun violence, which continues to rock the nation on a regular basis, are the exception to the millions of people who are unwilling to even talk about the problem, much less actually implement a solution.

Refusing to address the underlying issues behind our grief is counterproductive and illogical. Our reaction to other types of prominent tragedies makes it very clear that gun control in relation to mass shootings is the only type of tragedy that is treated this way. Did we refuse to talk about the weaknesses of our national infrastructure system and disaster management capabilities after the levees broke in New Orleans? Was everyone too afraid of being insensitive to talk about terrorism and airport security in the wake of 9/11? Of course not. The only reason gun control opponents urge us to hold off on that debate is because they dont' want to face the ugly repercussions of their ideology.

Perhaps banning all guns would be too extreme, but reforming our gun policies to ban, at the very least, the massively destructive semi-automatic assault weapons that are almost always used in mass shootings, seems like a no-brainer. One of the most-frequently cited arguments for keeping guns legal is self-defense. Even if we accept that there is merit to this argument, we should not and cannot extend it to semi-automatic assault weapons. Semi-automatic assault weapons are nothing more than killing machines, designed to wreak as much destruction as possible - which is exactly what Adam Lanza intended to do yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The .223 caliber semi-automatic assault weapon he used to open fire is a legal gun to own in the United States today, and has been since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was not renewed in 2004. The NRA and its advocates fight tooth and nail against every attempt to bring some semblance of sanity back to our gun control laws. And while it is true that banning these ultra-dangerous weapons would have a relatively minimal effect on crime overall, given that most violent crimes involve a handgun, it would have saved a lot of lives at places like Aurora and Newport. There is no sensible reason for these types of weapons to be available. To me, the uncompromising opposition by the NRA to any kind of sane gun reform is a morally indefensible one, a fact that is only highlighted in the wake of tragedies like the one that occurred this week.

Call it politicizing or call it sanity, the time has come to bring reasonable gun control laws back to our society. So go ahead, “politicize” the tragedy. Don’t do it for partisan gain, do it for the memory of those who lost their lives to a weapon that has no place in our society in the first place.


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Max Kirchner (not verified) on December 30, 2012 11:07 PM

Sanity? Bring back sanity you say? The "assault weapons ban" did nothing but try to regulate how scary people's firearms were to those who refused to own or learn anything about firearms...
What the hell does it matter if the murderer who kills your kids is holding his gun by a pistol grip or by a monte carlo style stock? Is a bayonet lug really going to make a gun more dangerous? Last time I checked, we didn't have a large problem with snipers in the hills that we are struggling to find, so flash hiders being restricted/illegal is among the many ridiculous ideas of this.
A man with a bolt action could have done the exact same thing as what Lanza did with his semi. Unarmed people are cattle to the slaughter to anyone who is armed at all with some sort of repeating distance weapon.
We need more funding going to mental health facilities to keep people like Lanza off the streets and more research into the effects of the countless psychotropic drugs Lanza was taking before he committed the atrocity, not more funding going to the ATF so they can further regulate the HUMAN RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS.

Anonymous (not verified) on December 20, 2012 2:46 PM

Thank you for continuing the dialogue .

Anonymous 15 (not verified) on December 18, 2012 3:52 PM

More and more the producers of movies and video games are responsible for promoting violence. How about banning violence in the media for a start instead of imposing gun control ? I don't watch movies in which there is violence. In fact I hardly ever watch movies. And I tell young people not to pollute their brains with violence-promoting video games. I hate violence, and to me life is sacred. And yet, if in my country I could get guns as easily and as legally as in the U.S.A., I would buy myself several hand guns, for personal security purposes and firearm shooting practise. Guns have their legitimate use. I like guns, and there is nothing wrong with that !

Anonymous (not verified) on December 21, 2012 6:00 PM

I own a gun for home protection as well and I will not shoot someone if it can at all be helped. The responsibility to teach children right from wrong belongs to parents. I grew up playing violent video games and watching violent movies but I don't commit violent acts. Why? Because I was taught that violence is wrong as a child. Stop blaming the media, movies, music, video games, etc.. and put the blame where it belongs, on inattentive parents.

nick (not verified) on December 18, 2012 9:14 AM

NO gun laws will stop sick individuals from doing horrible things. Like other people stated... They will find other "legal" weapons to use.

There should be armed police at schools if you really want to protect your students. Two armed guards will solve the problem.

Not gun bans. Nobody wants to be dealing with this situation. But deal with it in the right way. You don't see many shootings at airports right?

lets not forget.. the weapons used were registered under the kids mom. So his mom enabled the school shooting. not the rifle because it was semi-auto. Dont you think the kid would of still did what he wanted to do whether or not the guns were semi auto.
proving once again. guns dont kill people, people kill people. So ban people not guns.

Max Kirchner (not verified) on December 30, 2012 11:17 PM

Also: Note that the mother was not acting as a straw man for him to purchase the weapons. Lanza had to murder his own mother to steal her firearms. When someone is wicked enough to kill their own mother, they are wicked enough to do pretty much anything.
You don't see mass shootings happen at gun shops, gun shows, Texan barbecues, shooting matches, gun ranges, et.c.
Why? Because mass murderers like easy victims. It didn't matter if the maniac Lanza had a freaking screwdriver. Once the adults standing before them was down. The children were easy picking.
Nothing was going to stop him.
The teachers in that school weren't even allowed to have god damn tasers, if you want to know who is responsible for facilitating this massacre, don't blame law abiding Americans all over the country, blame the school district who doesn't even trust their teachers to defend their kid's lives with any sort of weapon.

Daniel Lewin (not verified) on December 18, 2012 9:27 AM

You're missing the point. Guns don't kill people, people kill people, but guns (particularly semi-auto's) make it a whole hell of a lot more efficient and thats why I am advocating for their ban...

Bob (not verified) on December 17, 2012 3:09 PM

A major problem in discussing this is that most people who are for gun control know nothing about guns. Connecticut already has an assault weapons ban, and the firearm used in this attack was legal and not according to the law an assault weapon.

If you've used firearms a lot, as I have, you'll recognize the fact that it isn't hard to keep one shooting no matter the action or magazine type. You can keep a pretty steady stream of fire going with a couple of revolvers and a pump action shotgun or rifle. Having a semi-auto with a big magazine doesn't make much difference. Most of these shooters spent months preparing for their events anyway. Just look up cowboy action shooting videos on youtube to see what can be done with firearms of the 1800's. You might be surprised.

Larry (not verified) on December 21, 2012 6:07 PM

You read my my, my friend. That young man could have even used just 1 revolver and reloaded. There was nobody that could have stopped him. Where I live all of the schools have one or more police personnel on campus and are designated School Resource Officers. I have lived here for 18 years and I can't think of one single school shooting occurring.

Anonymous (not verified) on December 17, 2012 5:15 AM

What drives me crazy is that everyone who thinks semi-automatic assault rifles should remain legal do not give one reasonable use for private citizens to own these weapons, except of course the old "what if society breaks down into chaos!" argument. THAT probably will never happen, but psychotic individuals deciding to take out as many people as possible appears to be happening often.

Gun ownership proponents often cite other ways in which people die more often, such as by drunk drivers. But there is a system in place to attempt to prevent drunk driving. There are laws and licensing and random road blocks to check for this. Besides which, we can't outlaw vehicles. People ACTUALLY need vehicles. The only possible reason to NEED semi-auto weapons is to kill people. And not JUST to kill people, but to kill many people in a short period of time.