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BOB GRAY: A plea for sanity — ban assault weapons

Only a titanic shift in our national character might make stricter gun laws an effective reality.

Housatonic — First things first: I am in complete agreement with and will strongly support any legislation banning “assault weapons.”

However, I also believe anything beyond hoping such legislation or significant action might even begin to affect this scourge is naive at best.

I own two guns: a 20-gauge, double-barrel shotgun and a .22 calibre rifle, neither of which have left their cases for at least ten years. By definition, this makes me a law-abiding hunter/gun collector.

Were I to plan a mass attack, the 20-gauge would be of little use. I might discharge two shots – horrific and tragic enough if I hit someone — before some courageous by-stander knocked me down and disarmed me.

However, my .22 is, by strict definition, no different from an “assault” rifle. It has a 10-shot magazine and will fire as fast as I could pull the trigger. If I wanted to, I could purchase – legally – a 20-shot clip or a 50-shot barrel magazine for my .22. But these magazines are notorious for jamming. They’d be a poor choice should I become unhinged and set off on a rampage.

However, the biggest difference in my .22 rifle and weapons used for mindless carnage is the ammunition. A .22 slug is about half the size of the tip of my pinkie. Remember. John Hinkley shot President Reagan in the chest with a .22, but missed any large organs or arteries.

Reagan left the hospital after a day or two.

People tend to equate “assault rifles” with the lethal, all-business, weapons used by armed forces that will indeed keep firing as long as the operator suppresses the trigger. The law already bans personal ownership of such a weapon.

Also, a very common, 62-grain round fired from any pistol or rifle would certainly have killed the ex-President by pretty much tearing his chest open.

However, the cowards in Congress, many of whom are in the NRA’s pocket, recently turned down legislation revoking the rights of a person on the no-fly list to buy guns. These folks are law-abiding gun collectors and hunters? Really?

A friend told me once, “Locks are for honest folks.” Sounds a lot like “If guns were illegal, only criminals would own guns.”

Gun-control legislation, even if the rump Congress were to come back to Washington from vacations, junkets, or campaigning, would at best be a flicker of hope and sanity in a dark world.

Only a titanic shift in our national character might make stricter gun laws an effective reality.

Given the current tone of rhetoric which masquerades as sane, public discourse in the United States, how likely is such a sea-change to occur?

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