Letter: Banning semi-automatics won’t stop mass shootings

I read with interest the Aug. 14 article in The Aegis on the proposed assault weapon ban by various Democratic anti-gun politicians and former and present law enforcement representatives. As usual, it focused on the black firearm AR-15 or its derivative models. Most anti-gun advocates think that banning these weapons will somehow stop mass shootings and we will all be safer. This concept is emotional and serves to conceal the facts on firearms, their use in crime and what realistic measures can help deter their unlawful use.

First, any AR-15 or derivative is simply a semi-automatic weapon. Politicians spout the term “military type” assault weapon, ignoring the fact that the real military M-4 assault rifle has fully automatic functions or selective fire positions. Standard AR-15s do not. The semi-automatic gun has been in existence since the 19th century. About 90% of today’s manufactured pistols are semi-automatic, 50% of shotguns are semi-automatic, and a large percentage of sporting rifles are semi-automatic. So it becomes the color or style of the AR-15 that makes it more deadly? David Chapman quoted in the article stated the AR derivative is “absolutely deadly.” Therefore, a .12 gauge, semi-automatic shotgun using “00” buckshot is somehow less deadly? Try it on a watermelon and see what’s left! Chapman’s reference that the National Firearms Act regulates certain “high powered rifles” is misleading. The federal NFA was enacted in 1934 as a way of restricting ownership of any machine gun or weapon with short barrels or silencers. The Act was later expanded to parts that can convert a semi-automatic to fully automatic.


In the case of the Dayton shooting, the shooter legally purchased an AM-15 receiver lower and obtained the upper components through a friend. Components that do not require registration. The shooter built the finished firearm illegally. What ban will stop that? What regulation will prevent its manufacture? Sen. Sirkin’s idea to pass a law to make sellers of arms used in crime responsible for civil liability is ridiculous. Are we to pass laws against bar owners who sell liquor to intoxicated people who drive their car and harm or kill innocent people in an accident, or do we sue the car seller for providing the vehicle driven by a drunk?

Baltimore will top 300 homicides this year. Most victims were shot with handguns, not “assault” weapons, most were young and most were people of color. Drugs are the leading cause of the majority of these killings. One can buy a gun in Baltimore but cannot find a Cuban cigar. Why so?

At present, Maryland has an effective background check system for state regulated firearms. This is backed up with FBI background checks for long guns making the system adequate, but not fully informed. The Dayton shooter had fantasies about shooting people and told classmates and friends who said nothing to the police. He even tweeted his evil thoughts for all to see, even though nothing bubbled to the surface for authorities to investigate.

Until we take action to report strange behavior when someone is mentally unhinged or when it is obvious that a person is a clear and present danger to others or themselves, more Daytons will happen. The bad guys will not turn in their guns and with 300 million firearms in the U.S., banning efforts are unrealistic and only disarm honest gun owners. A bad person with a gun can be stopped by a good person with a gun.

When the mental health community can legally report potential dangers to law enforcement authorities of people who are at risk of firearm misuse, we might prevent more tragedy in our lives and perhaps save many more.