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Letters to the Editor

High-velocity firearms like AR-15s ought to be banned

Recently, junior football league cheerleaders in an Ohio town were given the task of selling raffle tickets. The prize was an AR-15 rifle. About the same time, I learned that my favorite server at a local restaurant is already the owner of an AR-15. The following is what I said to her, plus what I would have said if I’d had more time.

The AR-15 is virtually the same weapon as the M-16 that I used in Vietnam. The difference is that the latter can fire full-automatic, whereas the former cannot. Still, the AR-15 is an auto-loader capable of firing 45 rounds per minute. Its projectile does not pass through human organs like the lower-velocity round of a pistol; rather, it pulverizes them, making survival far less likely.

When I left Vietnam, my need for a killing machine ended. Nevertheless, there are civilians who enjoy shooting military-grade weapons and claim the Constitution gives them the right. I disagree.

All rights come with limitations, and in my mind, high-velocity firearms and high-capacity magazines should be banned.

I am utterly perplexed that we shrug our shoulders and accept as normal what used to be considered insanity. I’m in my mid-seventies. In my youth, we hunted rabbits, pheasant, quail, shot targets and tin cans with our .22 rifles, and had fun.

Handguns were for cops, and no one thought it was OK to carry weapons in public, concealed or otherwise. A person who had a legitimate need to carry a pistol had to apply for a permit.

Then came the NRA. Then came a Supreme Court so politicized that corporations now have the rights of individual citizens. Should we be surprised at court rulings that prohibit states and local governments from regulating ownership and use of lethal weapons?

What is there to say of the NRA? What I say is that, in my mind, money given to the NRA is given and received by bloodstained hands. The NRA lies, denies facts, twists logic, and cares only about power. The NRA would have us believe that gun violence is an issue of mental health and video games, as if mentally ill people and video games do not exist in other nations. The NRA would like for us to forget that nations that regulate firearms also have far lower rates of gun violence than the USA.

I hope that I’m wrong in feeling that there is too much complacency here in Bureau County. In incident after incident of mass murder by guns, there is always the “who thought it could happen here?” It can happen here.

So what are we to do? Shall we have a hundred of LaPierre’s “good guys with guns” in the stands at football games? Shall we have police escorts for school buses? Can we avoid a Sandy Hook by having our first-grade teachers holster Glocks on their hips?

Or should we vote for politicians who will bring the USA in line with the rest of the civilized world?

Larry J. Smith


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