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Op-Ed: Banning Assault Weapons Is Not Necessarily The Answer

high-capacity magazine
Assault weapons have been a contentious issue in America for decades. These weapons, which are designed for rapid firing and high-capacity magazines, have been involved in numerous mass shootings and have become symbols of gun violence in the country. File photo: Guy J. Sagi, Shutter Stock, licensed.

NASHVILLE, TN – The shooting at Covenant Presbyterian School in Tennessee that saw the indiscriminate murder of three children and three adults by former student Audrey Hale, 28, once again highlights the issue of gun control and assault weapons in America. President Joe Biden called the shooting a family’s worst nightmare. “We have to do more to stop gun violence,” he said, once again urging Congress to pass tougher gun control laws. “It is ripping our communities apart, and ripping at the very soul of this nation.”

The question is, what can and should be done to stop gun violence?

Once again, America will be subjected to hours-long debates on gun control and whether assault weapons can and should be banned. Second-Amendment proponents and opponents will have their say and the issue will de down until the next mass shooting takes place.

A CNN report said that “Three weapons – an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol and a handgun – were found and police believe Hale obtained at least two of the weapons legally, Drake said. A search warrant executed at Hale’s home also resulted in the seizure of a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other evidence, according to police.”

Assault weapons have been a contentious issue in America for decades. These weapons, which are designed for rapid firing and high-capacity magazines, have been involved in numerous mass shootings and have become symbols of gun violence in the country. Advocates for gun control argue that these weapons should be banned, or at least regulated more strictly, to prevent further tragedies. On the other hand, proponents of gun rights argue that these weapons are protected by the Second Amendment and that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to own them for self-defense or recreational purposes. The debate has been fueled by high-profile shootings, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the Las Vegas shooting, which have brought the issue to the forefront of the national conversation. While some states have enacted stricter gun laws, including bans on assault weapons, the issue remains divisive and complex, with strong opinions on both sides.

While some argue that banning assault weapons would decrease the number of mass shootings and improve public safety, others maintain that such a ban would infringe upon their Second Amendment rights and have little impact on reducing violence.

Proponents of the right to own assault weapons argue that they are used for a variety of purposes beyond just self-defense, including hunting, sport shooting, and collecting. They also assert that a ban on assault weapons would only punish law-abiding citizens, as criminals would still be able to obtain these weapons through illegal means. Additionally, they argue that the term “assault weapon” is vague and encompasses a wide range of firearms, many of which are not significantly more dangerous than other types of firearms that are not classified as assault weapons.

Furthermore, those who oppose a ban on assault weapons point out that the vast majority of gun-related deaths in America are not caused by assault weapons, but rather by handguns. They argue that efforts to reduce gun violence should focus on addressing the root causes of violence, such as mental health issues, poverty, and gang activity, rather than targeting a specific type of firearm.

The term “assault weapon” is often used to describe a wide range of firearms that share certain features, such as a detachable magazine, a pistol grip, and a folding or telescoping stock. However, these features do not necessarily make a firearm more dangerous than other types of firearms that do not have these features.

For example, a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip may be classified as an assault weapon, but a semi-automatic rifle without these features may not be. However, both firearms fire one round per trigger pull and have similar accuracy and lethality.

Additionally, the term “assault weapon” can be misleading because it implies that these firearms are primarily designed for military use or are especially lethal. In reality, many assault weapons are simply civilian versions of military-style firearms that are designed to look more intimidating than they actually are.

Moreover, some firearms that are not classified as assault weapons may be just as deadly or even more so than those that are. For example, a hunting rifle with a high-powered scope and a large caliber round could cause just as much damage as an assault weapon in the hands of a skilled shooter.

It is important to recognize that the features that define an assault weapon do not necessarily make a firearm more lethal and that any proposals for gun control policy should be based on evidence and data rather than arbitrary classifications.

Before advocates of gun control call for banning assault weapons, closer attention should be paid to alternative ways of preventing such tragedies. One alternative solution is to focus on improving mental health care in the United States. Many mass shootings are committed by individuals with mental health issues, and better access to treatment and support could help prevent these tragedies from occurring. Additionally, addressing the root causes of mental illness, such as poverty and trauma, could also help reduce the incidence of gun violence.

Another approach to gun control is to implement stricter background checks for gun purchases. This could include more thorough screenings for mental health issues, criminal records, and domestic violence history. Strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) could also help prevent prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms.

The misplaced focus on assault weapons alone will only result in a misguided approach to dealing with gun control and gun violence in America. There are better and smarter ways to deal with this and the sooner we do the safer our children will be.

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