To the Editor:
The Sunday before the Sandy Hook slaughter, my family went target shooting. I am an NRA member, a Vice-Chair of the Mercer County Republican Committee, and fully support the calls for substantive, comprehensive, and immediate changes to our current gun control laws.
In shooting circles, there is a clever retort that says gun control is all about hitting your target. The all too facile quips, counterarguments and deflections against effective gun control legislation must now be laid to rest. Full-automatic and semi-automatic firearms are about quickly and effectively engaging and neutralizing multiple targets. Add to the equation high capacity magazines in an active shooter scenario, and the result is carnage.
Does America need another Emmett Till moment, to provide the visual evidence of what multiple high velocity rounds will do to a child’s body?
There are three legitimate reasons for Americans to own firearms: Self Defense, Hunting and Marksmanship. The current vilification of lawful gun owners is counter-productive and misguided: Gun owners, as never before, are receptive to rational gun control legislation proposals. Let’s not lose a unique opportunity for real reform because of ad hominem attacks.
The stated goal of the Obama Administration is to re-instate a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, while lawful firearms owners are hesitant to support the proposal in part because they fear the confiscation of their legally purchased rifles.
Here’s a compromise: Ban the actions of the rifles, not the rifles per se. This can be accomplished with the mandatory modification of all civilian rifles and smoothbores (shotguns) from their full automatic and semi automatic actions to actions that be only manually cycled (eg. straight-pull bolt action). This is both technologically feasible and a relatively cost effective solution. To avoid past loopholes, there must be no grandfathering of certain firearms. All fully automatic and semi-automatic rifles and smoothbores must be so modified.
If public safety requires we remove fully automatic and semi automatic rifles and smoothbores from civilian possession, we have the choice of outright confiscation, or modification. Under the modification scenario, owners will still get to keep their modified rifles and shotguns for legitimate uses while meeting the public safety requirements, without resorting to very unpopular and highly questionable confiscatory practices. After a transition period to permit for the mandated modifications, full-auto or semi-auto rifles and smoothbores will be prohibited to be manufactured for, owned by, or sold to the civilian sector.
A standing government buy-back program should also be instituted for all individuals who wish to sell their firearms. These programs have proven enormously successful in getting guns off the streets, and have enthusiastic support of law enforcement. The weapons purchased in the buy-back program are then destroyed lest they later resurface in the black market.
The Second Amendment phrase “well regulated” must be neither an empty phrase, nor code language against firearms ownership--but a goal to responsibly preserve an essential right in our Republic, coupled with the knowledge that the lives of our children and our neighbors depend upon real reform of our current arms laws.