The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 19, 2012

Your View: Ban assault weapons in response to shooting

After the abhorrent murders of 26 people in Connecticut, including 20 innocent children, it is time to restrict assault weapons and the ability to commit mass murders.

Even in the “wild west” day of more than 100 years ago, many towns in our country had hard and fast laws about checking guns in at the sheriff’s office as long as someone was in town. And back then, many considered guns a necessity. Violence was dramatically slowed.

Today, millions of people get permission to carry open or concealed weapons. One might say that we have tripped back more than 100 years in time. Assault weapons aren’t needed today. Certainly, people don’t need weapons that can kill scores of people in a short time.

That means automatic weapons with enormous magazines should be banned. All guns need to be registered. People can’t use semi-automatic weapons with 100-round magazines for hunting. These weapons are only intended for killing people — a lot of people.

There is no assurance that any action will prevent all people from killing each other, but I believe we need to start saving lives by picking the low-hanging fruit first. That means banning sale of assault weapons. Existing assault weapons cannot have more than 5-round magazines. Handguns should have similar restrictions.

In addition to the above, our nation needs to develop programs to treat the mentally ill to minimize their danger to the public. Those that remain dangerous should be institutionalized. These programs need to be well funded. And that requires taxes. Then, as a society, we need to evaluate the adverse effects of violence in the media.

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