Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 6, 2013

No right to ‘weapon of mass destruction’


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Mr. Smokey Shott’s column on April 16 included the following statement: “There has been strong support for the idea that guns, high-capacity magazines, etc., are responsible for mass shootings and should be restricted or banned ...”

Mr. Shott is incorrect in his assumption that those of us that favor sensible gun control lay the blame for these tragedies on the guns themselves. No weapon is responsible for the actions of its user. Nor do the majority of us support general gun bans.

While I personally believe that the second amendment affords us the right to own firearms, I do not subscribe to the conservative mentality that this right should be devoid of common-sense limitations. The purpose behind proposed limitations on magazine capacity and assault weapon ownership is to keep those weapons out of the hands of those who may use them for their intended purpose, which is to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time.

Mr. Shott’s continued assertion that unrestricted firearm ownership is somehow necessary to keep elected officials in line is fanciful, and would be amusing if not for the fact that he propagates this as a legitimate reason to allow folks to buy semi-automatic weapons capable of taking magazines that hold 30, or even 100 rounds of ammunition.

Personally, I would have no problem with a person owning a Bushmaster AR15 so long as their magazine capacity were limited to that of most other high-powered sporting rifles. Detachable magazines in semi-automatic Remington 7400 rifles hold four rounds, and they seem to get the job done just fine for hunting purposes, and I would imagine for home defense as well. I cannot fathom why someone would want to use a high-powered rifle for home defense, though. A handgun (which also should have limited magazine capacity) or shotgun is a much more sensible choice for home defense, as high-powered rifle rounds have a tendency to penetrate walls and keep on going (realistically this is a non-issue, as you’re statistically much more likely to shoot yourself or a family member than an intruder).

While largely incongruent, we can strike a better balance between gun ownership and the safety of the public. The best place to start is to support the expansion of background checks championed by Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey. We need to follow that up with a complete ban on all high-capacity magazines, and tie hefty criminal penalties to their ownership.

While I agree that additional gun laws will not prevent all future tragedies, I bristle at the notion that we should object to the implementation of new gun laws. What happened in Boston was not stopped by laws against making bombs or murdering people, but no one believes those laws are unnecessary or advocates their repeal. It is time that we started really regulating firearms for what they are — weapons made to kill. It is time for the gun owners of America to acknowledge that their right to own a firearm does not translate to the right to own a weapon of mass destruction, such as those used in Aurora or Newtown.

John M. McCormick

Athens