New sales of assault rifles should be regulated

With all due respect to Mr. Bob Meeker, a respected retired law enforcement officer and neighbor, I take issue with some of the comments and claims in his recent opinion piece.

As a gun owner, I see no need for civilian ownership of assault type weapons like AR-15s, and I question the motives of those civilians who own weapons capable of killing dozens of innocent people in just moments. However, I don’t think a total ban on this type of weapon is feasible at this point. Our country is already too saturated with these dangerous weapons owned by people who are not mentally or morally fit to possess them. I think the best we can hope for is to stop the sales of any more of this particular class of rifles, and strengthen the permitting and registration process for ownership.

There is no question that guns were created to kill. Sometimes that killing is of animals by hunters and on rare occasions guns are used in self-defense. But assault type rifles were created for only one purpose — to kill as many people as quickly as possible.

That is exactly what happened to 20 tiny children and six adults at Sandy Hook. Some of those six and seven year old children were shot seven times. A 14 year old girl in Parkland, Florida was shot nine times through her classroom window and died along with 16 schoolmates. And 59 people were murdered and over 500 wounded by a sniper 32 stories above them in Las Vegas. Each of these atrocities were committed by a single gunman with a military style rifle in an average of five minutes.

Mr. Meeker’s comparison of a call to ban some guns as equivalent to a call to ban cars if they are used to kill is disingenuous at best. There are many innocent items whose purpose could be misappropriated as tools to kill, even something as innocuous as a pencil or a toothbrush. When an AR-15 kills children in school, it IS being used for what it was designed — to shoot and kill as many people as quickly as possible. That kind of weapon and purpose needs to be regulated. But if someone figures out a way to use a car to kill 59 people and injure 500 more in five minutes from over 1,000 feet away, then maybe cars will need more regulation as well.

I have no fear of an AR-15 in the hands of a man like Mr. Meeker who served our country as a trained member of the military or law enforcement. But how many people who have access to assault type rifles have been professionally trained, mentally evaluated, and vetted as well as he has? Certainly none of the men who have committed mass murder in the U.S. in this century, and none of them were “outlaws” who ignored current gun laws. Each of them purchased their weapons of murder and the ammunition for them legally.

Perhaps it is true that the NRA was founded long ago to promote gun safety and legal ownership. But it has devolved into nothing more than a front for gun manufacturers from around the world and a funnel for dark money from those who either profit from gun sales or from foreign entities who seek to weaken the United States by fomenting the violence and political chaos that has our country on its current dangerous path.

There are many organizations and individuals who care more about profit and personal power than the future of our country and the safety of its residents. The NRA is the largest, but obviously not the only, example.

Patsy Sheppard

Tar Heel