Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Letter to the editor:

Assault weapons ban aids criminals

Another view?

View more of the Las Vegas Sun's opinion section:

Editorials - the Sun's viewpoint.

Columnists - local and syndicated writers.

Letters to the editor - readers' views.

Have your own opinion? Write a letter to the editor.

In her letter, “There’s precedent for unlikely chance,” Roberta Newman seemed to indicate that she would liked to see a ban on all assault weapons.

What is an assault weapon? Is an AR15 semi-automatic rifle any more of an assault weapon than any hunting rifle that also happens to be semi-automatic? Is a revolver any less of an assault weapon than a so-called semi-automatic pistol? Any weapon that is an automatic can be considered an assault weapon.

For clarification, any firearm that shoots one round for each pull of the trigger is semi-automatic. Automatic weapons are those that continue to fire rounds while the trigger is held in the pulled position. Fully automatic weapons are almost impossible for the public to legally obtain.

To ban firearms from honest, law-abiding people is to leave them victim to the criminal element that doesn’t worry about such bans except to know that their victims have no self-defense. Yes, thorough background checks should be done, including checking on people with mental health issues both past and present. Background checks should be required even for private gun sales or transfers, and those transactions should have required registrations.

There are no easy answers, but banning guns from honest people is not one of them.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 18 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. I second the author and Freeman's motion. The standard of defense for law abiding citizens should not just be want they need. It should be what they want. With a huge caveat: As long as it is legal. If the firearms and ammunition are legal, we shouldn't act irrationally and emotionally to deem them illegal. There should be sound reasons and facts supported by evidence, not emotions, to do so.

    CarmineD

  2. An AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with a 10-round clip isn't an assault weapon. An AR-15 with a 100-round ammunition drum is an assault weapon. It's all in the lethal potential.

    A little common sense and much less emotion could arrive at the best answer.

  3. There is precedent for regulating weapons in this country, The National Firearms Act of 1934 and The Gun Control Act of 1968. Those in fear of losing their 2nd Amendment rights have nothing to fear but the paranoidal rants they buy into. I absolutely agree with Vice President Biden, buy a shotgun for home defense. You don't need to be a marksman to use it.

  4. Try buying a shotgun in CO where the leftist Legislature recently banned them. That's the tip of the iceberg, folks. The loons want to disarm hardworking and lawful folks so the criminal class has an easier flock to shear. With 3 straight months of 2,000,000+ background checks by the FBI, it appears the American populace is smarter than the crackpots on the left give them credit for being.

  5. I want to apologize to the guy out on the golf course outside my window.

    I really didn't mean to hit you in the head with that Ted Nugent compact disc I sailed out the window after reading his latest nonsensical rant.

    Didn't mean to take it out on you.

    What that has to do with this article is the fact I was tempted to take my computer and toss it out the window too. After reading this Second Amendment is sacrosanct and everyone should own and be trained with automatic, semi-automatic and crew served weapons letter.

    The simple fact of the matter is this: People just do not like waking up in the morning, drinking coffee, eating cornflakes, and reading about twenty children at a school, along with six adults, getting blasted to smithereens. It was reported that each one of those children received anywhere from three to eleven bullets in their bullet riddled bodies.

    It's not about taking away Second Amendment rights from anyone. It's not the start of anarchy. Enough of that old Charlton Heston pry the gun from my cold, dead, gnarled up fingers. It's about controlling madness with common sense legislation. Legislation that approached it with solutions from all angles. All with an eye to prevent another Sandy Hook from happening.

    The pressure on the NRA and the pro-gun lobby will continue. Enough is enough. The madness must stop.

  6. Biden is incorrect. He didn't think before he spoke. Fancy that. While a shotgun may be a good self defense weapon in certain situations, I can cite a slew of other situation in which it is not.

  7. Is this a joke? You can buy a machine gun in this town by paying a tax and undergoing a background check. When I became a policeman I could carry a revolver with 12 extra rounds of ammunition. One night while driving in West Los Angeles a Hispanic teenager empties a 20 round magazine from a weapon called a Mac 11 at me while passing my police car.
    All I had was my revolver and a 20-year-old Rusty shotgun. Police are arming themselves more heavily because this country is loaded with crazy psychopathic people who are armed to the teeth. Law-abiding citizens have a couple of guns and a few bullets. Criminals have arsenals with thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosives grenade launchers and everything in between.

    We had to put a wall up in front of the Santa Monica police station because people were constantly shooting at the police station from the forth Street overpass. In addition a guy ran into the police station one night and tossed the World War II fragmentation grenade over the front counter. During the Santa Monica pier shoot out nearly half of the entire watch got shot the pieces in the course of a couple of minutes. The mass proliferation of every kind of weapon imaginable in the hands of every kind of person imaginable have turn this country into a giant Charnel House.

    The military is having an unbelievable suicide problem. They're debating restricting guns the soldiers can get. In Michigan many ranges won't rent guns to single males. Men are renting guns and shooting themselves on the range. It's becoming a trend.

    Guns used for self-defense are miniscule compared to the millions of violent crimes that occur in this country every year. In this town it's much more likely a man will shoot his wife to death for not cooking his food properly than a woman will use a gun for self-defense.

  8. I'm more concerned that the government will call in a drone strike on me. Let the military keep the semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines; the leisure class can find less dangerous ways of entertaining themselves.

  9. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/w...
    the military needed 250,000 rounds of ammunition for each insurgent killed. The nation's entire ammunition supply was exhausted before you could blink an eye. The military gets some training with firearms. If they can't hit the broad side of a barn with a handful rice what are the chances that civilians can use their guns effectively. Most don't know which end the bullet comes out.

  10. It's understandable that after a tragedies like Newtown and Aurora that people would lash out at the instruments with which so many lives were taken. But, as in all things, we should be guided by evidence rather than emotion. And we should be careful to balance competing interests.

    For those who many not know, the AR platform (the "AR" stands for Armalite Rifle, btw) is the standard gun for several competitive shooting sports (see www.3gunation.com, for one example). The AR is not, in other words, some rare or exotic weapon being hoarded by paramilitary gun nuts running around in fatigues in Montana calling themselves a "militia." The AR represents the current state of the art in long arms, and is as mainstream as semi-auto pistols. For shooting sports enthusiasts, a new "Assault" Weapons Ban now would be the equivalent of banning carbon fiber in tennis and telling Maria Sharapova to dust off her grandparents'wooden racquets.

    Nobody wants to see another Newtown, but is there any actual EVIDENCE that limiting access by law-abiding people (who enjoy rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment) to those sorts of weapons will prevent future spree killings? There are already tens of millions of semi-automatic rifles in this country, and there are even more high capacity magazines. A well-made rifle can last 100 years or more. These objects are going to be with us forever. By itself, a new AWB will not prevent mentally disturbed people from gaining access to millions of existing weapons. The Virginia Tech murders (the worst in U.S. history) also showed what sort of carnage can be had with handguns.

    We can do far more to reduce the likelihood of another shooting rampage by improving mental health services (one area where conservatives might actually agree to increase public spending) and implementing universal background checks.

  11. Reducing violent crime and suicide isn't really rinky-dink. Convicted felons go to prison for violating gun laws. The rest get a slap on the wrist. To go to prison for a drug crime in California you need a criminal history that stretches from the ceiling to the floor. The prison system is jam packed and only the most violent people end up there.

    I don't follow the statistics anymore but in the 1990s the average time served for homicide was 71 months.

  12. When a crime occurs with a military style rifle it gets a lot of press. The reality is those crimes are very rare. The real problem is cheap handguns in the hands of unstable people and criminals. It's handguns that are killing and injuring most of the people. They are everywhere. If a criminal wants a gun all he has to do is break into a couple of houses and he will find a pistol by someone's bed stand. It's as simple as that.

  13. To answer your basic question, Robert: The term "assault rifle" is a translation of the German word Sturmgewehr (literally "storm rifle", "storm" as in "military attack"). The Army definition is "short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachinegun and rifle cartridges." Assault rifles are capable of selective fire: automatic, semi-automatic, and (sometimes) burst.

    The term "assault weapon" was introduced in the firearms act of 1994, now expired, which included among other things rifles that would fire only semi-automatically.

    A neat question - if the act defining an item expires, does that item cease to exist? Or is it only the definition that goes "poof?" (In the second case, how do we remove the definition from all our memories??)

  14. Reference the title to this letter, this from today's MedPage Today (see at http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealth... ):

    "States with more intensive regulation of gun ownership, sales, and storage tended to have lower rates of gun-related fatalities, researchers said.

    With state-level gun laws from 2007 to 2010 rated on a "legislative strength" scale, states in the top quartile had gun-related fatality rates more than 40% lower than states in the bottom quartile (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.58, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.92), according to Eric Fleegler, MD, MPH, of Boston Children's Hospital, and colleagues.

    The lower rates applied both to homicides and suicides, they reported online in JAMA Internal Medicine."

    The article does NOT draw a causal link between regulations and fatalities - it only notes the correlation.

  15. I'll confess that I was not able to appreciate the full significance of the article (but I applaud the use of actual research in the debate). At some points, the researchers appear to suggest a correlation between gun regulations and decreases rates of suicide and homicide, but then they add:

    "On the other hand, when the data were further adjusted for rates of household gun ownership, the association between gun regulation strength and gun-related deaths disappeared entirely, for suicide as well as homicide."

  16. "And the majority of Americans want a NEW BAN ON
    ASSAULT RIFLES." Teamster

    Any bill to ban assault weapons has to get passed through the Democratic Senate first. And there are 20 Senate seats for reelection in 2014. 7, if I'm not mistaken, are Dems and have B or higher ratings from the NRA. Let's see what they do and how they vote.

    I'll grant you these Democratic Senators will approve background checks. So will the GOP! But assault weapons? Recall the Federal ban expired in 2004 and wasn't reauthorized since. These Dems don't believe like Vice President Biden that the best way for a woman, his wife, to defend herself against home invaders with guns is with a 2 round shotgun blasted off from the balcony. I haven't met any man or woman since the VP made that statement who agrees him.

    CarmineD

  17. Emthree: "Correlation" - two (or more) things tend to happen together. "Causation" - one event is the direct cause of another event. The authors specifically deny that their results support any determination of causation. It is quite plausible that an association between the rates of household gun ownership, gun regulation strength, and gun-related deaths all correlate, but that all are also actually caused by an as-yet-unidentified fourth event. Examples of that fourth event could include changes in crime rates, the willingness of the population to abide by laws in general, cohesion of the population, population density, or ???????

    One potential for further study would be to take the three elements included here and toss in something like the rate of traffic citations, adjusted for changes in policing activity. Traffic cites going up could indicate a general decrease in the population's respect for laws in general. The results could be negative - but negative data is data nonetheless.

  18. "Carmine......

    Things are different now." Teamster

    I agree. Background checks and closing loopholes for gun show purchases will pass easily.

    Things change, but slowly. Take one step forward at a time.

    CarmineD