There has been much discussion regarding the ownership and use of firearms recently. Unfortunately, there are many inaccurate statements made by both sides of the issue that, once published in print, are taken to be fact.
First of all terminology: Assault weapons are military firearms that are capable of “select fire.” That means that there is a switch that enables the rifle to fire a single shot per trigger pull or to fire a burst of several shots or a continuous stream of shots until the ammo is depleted.
A firearm that fires a single shot with one pull of the trigger and the next round of ammo is automatically chambered is a “semiautomatic” firearm. Fully automatic and select-fire firearms are legal to own but require special licenses, thorough background investigations, many months of waiting, strict regulations for use, and they cost many thousands of dollars.
The common reference to an “assault weapon” identifies a semiautomatic firearm that outwardly resembles a military select-fire rifle. These military-style firearms often are referred to as being of no legitimate use other than taking as many innocent lives as possible in a short period of time.
The functioning of an assault-style rifle is no different from dozens of normal-looking hunting rifles. A lever-action rifle like you see in old westerns is capable of firing a dozen rounds from a tubular magazine just as fast as a semiautomatic rifle with a 10-round clip.
There are many legitimate competitions across this country that use assault-style firearms. These competitions require the rapid changing of detachable clips. High-capacity clips seldom are used because they are unreliable and often malfunction.
The logic behind restricting how many rounds a clip can hold appears to be that by requiring an assailant to reload after fewer than 10 shots, it would allow the victims to overwhelm him before he could reload. Most unarmed citizens are not going to stand up and try to rush a gunman between reloads.
So who should be allowed to own and use firearms? Right now there is a system in place that many believe to be inadequate. If someone acts odd or doesn't look right or is a loner, should that be reason to force them to undergo a mental evaluation before purchasing a firearm? How many firearms are enough for one person to own? Can I only own a single car because that is all I really need?
What if I want to collect a wide variety of motor vehicles and use a different one for different occasions? But wait, firearms are different. They are designed to kill stuff and are inherently dangerous. A souped-up car with a big engine used improperly can cause death and injury.
I would ask those who believe that stricter firearm ownership regulations would have prevented any of the recent tragic mass shootings to state what they would enact in addition to the current regulations.
Jim Rush, Gaithersburg