Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Assault Weapons

Amid all the earlier discussion of the causes and future remedies relating to the Tucson murders, there has been relatively little said or written about the weapon used.

Barbara and I have for many years been in support of Sarah Brady in her efforts to bring about some form of gun control in our country.

We would prefer the type of gun control prevailing in such countries as the UK. This has worked well. There are strict limits on gun ownership, and the rarity of incidents involving any form of such weapons as handguns and rifles speaks for itself.

However, I know this form of control will not work in the United States. This is not just because of the successful efforts of the NRA to crush any attempt to limit the ownership of guns. As a boy of about 10, I was taught target shooting (at school) with a .22 rifle . My father later gave me my own .22, but I never used this after 1939. I had no problem with registering this gun, but I had given up shooting at targets, and never did try to use it on rabbits - or rats, for that matter.

One day, when we were living in Devon, a very polite police officer knocked at our door, and suggested that I might allow him to take away my rifle. Perhaps this was when there was a justifiable fear of invasion. We lived near Slapton Sands, a wonderful stretch of beach that was used by the army to practice landings before the invasion of France. The idea may have been to round up as many weapons as possible out of fear that they might be used against our own forces, although I have come to doubt this explanation.

Living in England, we never felt any need to retain some firepower in our home, and we have continued to feel this way in California. We do realize, however, that we are in a minority, and that what I consider a twisted interpretation of a clause in the constitution permitting citizens to bear arms, in case they were needed for service in the militia has been stretched so that it severely limits any restriction on firearms. I have come to accept that ownership of handguns, as well as shotguns and rifles will be legally protected in our lifetime.

There will be no restrictions on weapons used for hunting or self defense.

What I find almost incredible is that we do not regulate assault rifles, including such "semi-automatic" weapons as the one used in Arizona. What purpose does an AK47 or other similar weapon have except to engage in multiple killings? Could we not find a middle way, accepting our nation's love affair with certain firearms, but absolutely ban such terrible killing machines as can be readily bought at gun shows in most states?

In other words, instead of arguing as to whether talk radio, video games, and aggressive speech are responsible for "crazy" behavior, can't we do something to control excessive weaponry?

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