Thoughts on clas­si­fy­ing weapons merit re­sponse

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - VOICES & OPINION - By Thomas Ga­bor Thomas Ga­bor is a crim­i­nol­o­gist in Palm Beach County and au­thor of “Con­fronting Gun Vi­o­lence in Amer­ica.” He can be reached at tga­bor@thomas­ga­bor.com.

Mr. Larry Horist’s April 16 com­men­tary, re­spond­ing to my opin­ion piece on a new ap­proach to clas­si­fy­ing and reg­u­lat­ing weapons, con­tains a num­ber of mis­state­ments.

Horist states that there are only two types of weapons “sub­ject to de­bate” — au­to­matic and semi­au­to­matic firearms. There are also firearms with other “ac­tions,” such as bolt, lever, and pump ac­tion guns, still used by some hun­ters and sport shoot­ers.

With re­gard to semi-au­to­mat­ics, Horist glosses over the enor­mous dif­fer­ence in ca­pa­bil­ity and po­ten­tial lethal­ity of mil­i­tary-style weapons like the AR-15 that can be fed by mag­a­zines with up to 100 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion as op­posed to ri­fles with in­ter­nal mag­a­zines hold­ing just a few rounds. The mo­du­lar de­signs of AR-15s and their rel­a­tives can also ac­com­mo­date a va­ri­ety of aim­ing de­vices and other ac­ces­sories.

Horist states that muz­zle ve­loc­ity, an im­por­tant fac­tor in the po­ten­tial in­juries pro­duced by a firearm, has more to do with the am­mu­ni­tion than the gun, when it is re­ally a prod­uct of both. He sug­gests that am­mu­ni­tion is al­ready well reg­u­lated, when noth­ing is fur­ther from the truth. Aside from spe­cial­ized am­mu­ni­tion (ar­mor­pierc­ing), fed­eral law and most states re­quire no li­censes to sell or buy am­mu­ni­tion, no back­ground checks are per­formed, no records are kept of sales, and there are no vol­ume pur­chase re­stric­tions.

The most egre­gious state­ment made by Horist was that the car­nage in Las Ve­gas could have been com­mit­ted with a “non-as­sault” weapon. It de­fies cred­i­bil­ity to be­lieve that one in­di­vid­ual could shoot 600 peo­ple with­out the help of mil­i­tary-style weapons equipped with 100-round mag­a­zines and bump stocks for rapid fir­ing. Firearms fir­ing at a slower rate and re­quir­ing con­stant reload­ing would have spared hun­dreds of deaths and in­juries that day.

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