Thank the NRA for cold, dead children

EDITOR: In 2004, I submitted a letter to the editor with the title, "Thank the NRA for Cold, Dead Cops." It concerned the expiration of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which from 1994 till that June had prohibited the manufacture, transfer, and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds - and its ramifications for law enforcement. In the eight and a half years since, I have realized that its title was incomplete; it neglects the students, shoppers, movie viewers, congresswoman, teachers, and - most recently - school children senselessly slaughtered by maniacs and these equally insane weapons.

Friday's Newtown, CT school shooter and his three semi-automatic weapons (a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and Glock 10 mm & Sig Sauer 9mm handguns) killed 28 people, 20 of them children. Details on his ammunition are not certain, but it is estimated that he fired 50-100 shots.

July's Aurora, CO movie theatre shooter and his weapons (a 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle, and Glock 22 handgun) killed 12 and injured 59. His ammunition included a 100-round drum magazine, which mercifully malfunctioned after approximately 30 rounds.

Last year's Tucson, AZ shooter and his 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round magazine killed 6 people, and injured 14, including principal target congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

2009's Fort Hood, TX shooter and his FN Five-seven semi-automatic pistol (bought specifically because it was the most advanced handgun with the highest standard magazine capacity) killed 13 and injured 30.

Earlier that year, practically in our backyard, a shooter in Binghamton, NY and his guns (including semi-automatic .45-caliber Beretta Px4 Storm and a 9mm Beretta 92FS Vertec Inox pistols) killed 14 and injured 4.

And who can forget Virginia Tech in 2007? The shooter and his semi-automatic handguns (.22-caliber Walther P22 and 9mm semi-automatic Glock 19) killed 33 and injured 23.

That's 106 lives lost in just six incidents! Fifteen other mass shootings in just the last five years total 109 more. These guns didn't keep anybody safe. These guns didn't keep anybody free. These guns didn't contribute to our collective security by enabling a citizen militia. They - as much as those who wielded them - killed and maimed our fellow citizens, friends, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.

In the wake of this latest tragedy, let us renew our efforts to strike an appropriate balance between the personal liberty guaranteed by the second amendment and the collective safety required by common sense. Assault weapons have no place outside the hands of soldiers and law enforcement, and those - notably the NRA - who bankroll the campaigns of politicians who keep them on our streets now have fresh blood on their hands.

Sources: Wikipedia & Huffington Post

Kris Schwenke