To the editor: In debate on mass killings, AR-15 restrictions must be addressed

Efforts by students to ban the weapon used to slaughter 17 of their friends and teachers on Feb. 14 in Florida have been rebuffed by lawmakers.

None of the politicians with whom they met, including the president, supported making the sale of AR-15s illegal, even though it has been the weapon of choice in five of the deadliest mass shootings in recent years, including the massacres at Newtown, Conn., and Las Vegas, Nev.

It’s important to consider tougher background checks, improved school security and better mental health programs. But to refuse to discuss tough restrictions on the sale of AR-15s is disrespectful to the victims and another example of politicians protecting the NRA, which spent over $50 million on its favorite candidates in 2016, and the gun industry, which has sold over 15 million AR-15s at $500 to $2,000 a pop.

None of the constitutional rights that we cherish is absolute. I enjoy free speech, but I cannot incite a riot or slander someone’s good name. No one seems to worry that these common sense constraints are a “slippery slope” that ultimately will lead to the government muzzling us. However, when it comes to the Second Amendment, the mere suggestion of limiting access to the most lethal firearms is met with dire warnings that soon we will be totally disarmed and forced into servitude by the government. These students, and those who support them, are not trying to take away guns that people use for hunting or need for self-defense. They want to prohibit the sale of a particular rifle that has been used over and over to kill their peers. There is nothing unreasonable about this.

The Founders knew that the Constitution they bequeathed to us, and our understanding of our rights, would have to adapt to circumstances they could not imagine. As Thomas Jefferson himself stated, “…no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs to the living generation.”

When the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1791, the most lethal weapon available to most Americans was a muzzle loading musket. The Founders did not contemplate automatic and semi-automatic guns that can kill a roomful of children in a few seconds.

They would be appalled, I believe, by our failure to protect society’s most vulnerable members from these weapons and by the use of an extreme and rigid interpretation of their words as an excuse for inaction.


Bill Dunkel

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  1. Deb says:

    My family have been hunters for generations. Of course they have a right to own guns and continue our family tradition into future generations.

    So, I support the 2nd Amendment. However, to say that this right extends to weapons of war is ludicrous. What next? Is the NRA going to demand the right of every aggrieved person to own an armored tank, anti-aircraft missal and/or nuclear bomb?

    An Assault Rifle might be a heck of a lot of fun (for some) but it is designed to hunt one thing: Human Beings. If one is so desperate to fire weapons of war, go ahead feed the need and enlist. At least you will get excellent training and be under close supervision.

    The lives of our school children, moviegoers, church attendees and mall customers are far more important than your gun fetish and Rambo fantasies. They have every right to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Yeah…our Forefathers said that too.

  2. Brian Decatur says:

    The way to stop the shootings is to make a law against shooting people. Oh,yeah there is. Well, we could make a law against felon’s having firearms. Oh. We can make a law against weopons in school. Oh. What about signs that say schools are gun free zones?