Time to ban assault rifles

Published 11:45 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

Karl Schmidt, in his March 2 letter, “Facts and statistics,” is correct that intervention with Nikolas Cruz very well could have prevented the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

However, I’d like to know what statute law enforcement could use to confiscate Cruz’s guns?

Florida is the poster child of lax to non existent gun laws that Schmidt and the NRA desire. In fact, had local law enforcement seized the guns, the NRA would have been there to pay Cruz’s legal bills to get back his guns.

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Schmidt goes on to insult Americans by stating that few people are smart enough to make intelligent policies regarding guns. What nonsense! Very few Americans know how to construct a nuclear weapon, yet they’re more than smart enough to oppose one going off nearby.

What we need is an unbiased and thorough study of gun violence. It has been proposed for 20 years that the Centers for Disease Control do such a study. The problem is that because of the Dickey amendment passed in 1996, Congress can’t appropriate funding for such a study.

This amendment was lobbied for by the NRA, which still opposes any federally funded studies. 

By the way, Schmidt’s statement that 2.5 million crimes per year are prevented by guns is bogus. A paper from the Violence Policy Center states that “for the five-year period 2007 through 2011, the total number of self-protective behaviors involving a firearm by victims of attempted or completed violent crimes or property crimes totaled only 338,700.” That comes to an annual average of 67,740, nowhere near the NRA’s 2.5 million.

Schmidt tries to make the specious argument that since all guns are the same, banning assault weapons would only cause would-be mass shooters to switch to different weapons, resulting in only a slight change in the death toll.

He could not be more wrong. I direct his attention to an article in the Feb. 22 issue of The Atlantic by Heather Sher, a radiologist at Broward County Hospital where victims from the Parkland school shooting were treated. She compared the wounds from the AR-15 fired by Cruz to those fired by a 9mm pistol used in a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport a year earlier. 

Her findings are both startling and unnerving. According to Sher, the high-velocity round from an AR-15 strikes with more than three times the energy of a 9mm. 

The AR-15 eviscerates the internal organs it passes through, leaving a large exit wound and little for doctors to repair. Victims bleed to death quickly. A round from a 9mm pistol leaves a straight line of damage through the internal organs. Unless a crucial area is hit, a shooting victim can usually survive. 

Most of Parkland’s shooting victims died inside the school with medics unable to save them. The mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport resulted in 11 people being shot. All survived, including six who were seriously wounded. Why? Because the weapon used was a 9mm and not an assault rifle.

With its lethal ammunition, large capacity magazines, quick firing and cheap price, no wonder the AR-15 is the gun of choice by assassins who have killed 177 people over the last three years, including the 52 killed in Las Vegas only last October. It’s time to ban assault rifles.

James Peca is a retired U.S. government analyst who lives in Farmville. Contact him at Jep315@gmail.com.