Leave the AR-15 alone

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a viewpoint expressed by an individual who feels that banning the AR-15 rifle is a justifiable solution to the unfortunate mass shootings taking place within this country (a Feb. 22 letter to the editor).

While no one would argue that these atrocities are happening far too often, I do dispute the inaccuracies stated within his rationale. Most significantly, the AR-15 platform is not an “automatic” weapon used in warfare, but rather a semi-automatic rifle capable of one round per trigger pull. While the AR-15 may appear ominous in some opponents’ eyes, barring cosmetics it is no different than any other firearm used for sport or home defense. In addition, legislation has made the sale of automatic firearms to civilians illegal since 1986. According to the New York Times article “The Assault Weapon Myth,” on average, 11,000 individuals are killed annually by a firearm. This includes suicides, which account for nearly 65 percent of all gun-related deaths. Within this data sample, a mere 322 were perpetrated with any rifle, including the AR-15.

With respect to our Second Amendment rights, the laws written by our founders were done so with the intent of protecting the people from a tyrannical government. A simple history lesson with respect to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, or modern day North Korea should be considered evidence that such governmental overreach does in fact occur. A 2016 statistic sited by CBS News stated that an average of 28 people per day are killed from DUI-related accidents, yet we don’t see blanket news coverage calling for the banning of automobiles, nor alcohol.

The one key component that fails to be addressed by the mainstream media is that of mental health. Nearly all of the individuals whom have perpetrated these heinous crimes have had some degree of mental illness, yet society chooses to ignore this critical factor. With over 300 million firearms in the U.S. alone, the “banning” of any firearm seems a moot point. Criminals will always find a means to act out their crimes, leaving law-abiding citizens to suffer from useless legislation.

Shawn Willbond