The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 28, 2013

Your View: Privately owned assault rifles serve no useful purpose

Gary Lindsay’s letter published April 20 opposing an assault weapons ban says, “You are more likely to be killed by someone swinging a hammer than by an ‘assault’ rifle,” since more murders involved blunt instruments than rifles in 2011. But his point is irrelevant.

The problem: Why did Adam Lanza attack Sandy Hook Elementary with an XM15 rather than a hammer? Answer: When you want to rapidly kill and maim as many people as possible, assault weapons are many times more effective than hammers.

Usefulness: Assault rifles are more like grenades and bombs than hammers. While all these can kill, only hammers have numerous peaceful uses. Claiming you need assault weapons for hunting and target shooting is just like saying, “Playing football is impossible if there are rules against hits to the head.” Claiming a legal right to assault weapons so you can overthrow the government whenever you decide it’s a tyranny is both nonsensical as law and impractical. Claiming you need personally-owned assault weapons always handy for protection is untenable — careless reasoning based on an exalted image of perfect security.

Privately-owned assault weapons, unlike hammers, serve no useful social purpose. That’s why limiting assault weapon sales is desirable even if it only prevents one mass shooting tragedy every 10 years.

Lindsay does favor keeping “weapons of any kind out of the hands of the mentally ill.” Substitute “mentally ill and dangerous” here. Then I assume we both support universal background checks on gun sales; better data collection to determine those mentally ill and dangerous; and more resources devoted to aiding those suffering from mental illness, whether they’re dangerous or not.

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