Opinion: Unnecessary access to assault rifles

Christina Bucciere

Christina Bucciere

Christina Bucciere is a junior journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine shooting used a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. Seung-Hui Cho, solely responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting, used a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. James Holmes, accountable for the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting, used a semi-automatic M16 rifle. Adam Lanza, guilty of the Newtown, Conn. massacre, used an AR-15 rifle, a civilian version of the M16 military rifle that can typically shoot 45 rounds per minute.

From where I’m standing, these are weapons of mass destruction, and they are easily accessible to the general public across the United States.

In the wake of the tragic Newtown shooting, serious debates on gun control issues have been recharged in full force. The main issues include more in-depth background checks, longer waiting periods before purchase and even requiring armed guards in every school.

But I have to ask: Is someone like Lanza, who was determined beyond any point of return, going to mind a few extra weeks of waiting? Would a more in-depth background check have revealed any new information that his family, neighbors and acquaintances could not see themselves? Will one armed guard be able to fend off a crazed killer with an assault rifle, already prepared to die with nothing to lose?

I can’t seem to believe that these solutions will change the outcome. These murderers are able to pull off their last acts of psychotic showmanship by knowing how to bend the laws and evade the rules of the system if need be. But I believe there is one way to, at the very least, prevent so many lives from being taken in these heinous situations.

The real problem is the kind of weapons Lanza was able to carry into Sandy Hook Elementary School that morning. His ability to get his hands on a military-style assault weapon practically defines the word negligence. We know what these kinds of weapons are used for — we have the prematurely taken lives to prove it — but our gun control laws continue to provide access to these weapons that have no business being anywhere besides the military arena for which they are intended.

I am not against the right of the people to bear arms, regardless of the Second Amendment being antiquated or not. There is a time and a place for personal ownership of guns. But there is a difference between having possession of a handgun for protection against intruders or a rifle for recreational hunting, and having access to a weapon that could potentially kill dozens of innocent people, even innocent children, in a matter of seconds.

I won’t pretend to insinuate that a renewal of the 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban would have much impact on overall gun violence, but that is not my area of focus. Mass murderers do not use handguns when they would not be sufficient for their needs. With intentions of taking numerous lives in a very short amount of time, only an assault weapon will do. Rapid fire is what they crave. So I suggest we don’t let them have it.