It's time to get rid of our assault weapons

To the editor:                                                                                                              

Wake up and smell the gunpowder. Once more we see images, along with our morning coffee, of students running from terror, of grieving families and friends, and of elected leaders talking about mental health, armed teachers and the need to pray for the victims. What they don’t talk about is the stark fact that since 2004, when the assault weapons ban expired, and now, mass shootings with six or more fatalities have risen by 183 percent.

Analysis shows that assault rifles have been the greatest factor in carrying out these attacks efficiently, and numerous individuals have died because of their widespread availability. The guns and ammunition used were legally obtained by 82 percent of lethal mass shooters.

The current state of our understanding of mental illness does not allow us to identify potential killers successfully, much less treat them for the underlying pathology they may possess. Other parts of the world have similar rates of mental illness but far fewer such incidents, because gun ownership is either banned or severely restricted.

Nor is arming civilians and teachers for defense a viable solution. Armed individuals, even when trained, who are respectful of human life will always be at a disadvantage when confronting those who are not.

The only solution to ending this carnage, at least for now, is to remove these weapons from public ownership. We have allowed the rights of those individuals who feel empowered by owning the most lethal weapon available, and the rights of gun makers and sellers to make the greatest profit possible, to  jeopardize the rights of all to a safe existence.

We should confiscate these weapons and either destroy them, or lock them in secure vaults until the human race learns to practice conflict resolution and anger management, and understands enough about human behavior to control predators.

—Julie Melchior

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