By Joe Rector

Another day brought another massacre of young people. Douglas High School suffered from the maniacal acts of a former student. In the end, seventeen persons are dead and as many have been wounded. The weapon of choice in the crime was an AR-15 rifle, a semi-automatic version of the military’s M16.

The use of this weapon in no way protected anyone’s family. Instead, the gunman used the assault weapon to mow down as many innocent students and teachers as he could in a limited amount of time. Perhaps he had a grudge against a teacher who had been in some way responsible for his expulsion from the school. Maybe he had felt bullied by another student, or maybe he just felt that the school had disrespected him in some way. So, instead of dealing with such difficulties with the help of someone else, the killer decided to wreak havoc and slaughter as many individuals as possible.

Guess what! No excuse for killing is acceptable in this instance. What is even less acceptable is that his buying an assault rifle was easier than buying a handgun. Yes, he bought this weapon legally. The question is what in the name of sanity is this country doing by allowing an 18 year old to buy an assault rifle.

I defend the rights of individuals to own guns to protect their families or for hunting purposes. However, I will never believe that any person has the right to have possession of an assault rifle. The logical question is for what purpose does anyone use such a killing tool? Hunting with it destroys the game that would be food. Target practice isn’t much of a challenge when a weapon can disintegrate the object so completely. The only reason for owning a gun is that an individual is ready and willing to kill another human. The kicker is that a handgun or shotgun or single shot rifle can bring about the same results in the hands of a trained gun owner.

Yes, we need better mental health services provided for people. Of course, with the cuts in social services that have been proposed, giving that help might be difficult. Comprehensive background checks can help stem the flow of weapons to those who are not well enough to responsibly own one. Implementing stronger background checks is not an invasion of privacy. It’s time for this practice when 97% of the American people are in favor of it.

At the same time, this country needs to look seriously at taking assault weapons out of circulation. This is not an invasion of anyone’s rights to bear arms; it’s action to remove guns from our society that serve no purpose other than to kill. America represents about 4.5% of the world’s population, but we own nearly half of all the guns on the planet. Removing one type of weapon and the kits that can be used to make weapons semi-automatic will still leave plenty of guns for self-defense and sport.

The NRA would have us all believe that any attempt to limit guns is the first step in taking away all guns and our sacred rights. Logic tells us that simply isn’t true. Trying to remove assault weapons from circulation and doing a better job on background checks are steps to make our world a safer place without firing a single round. We have nothing to lose but much to gain.