Let’s keep gun debate intelligent, informed
To the editor:
Gun control advocates weaken their argument when they use incorrect terms to describe guns. While gun-haters may think all guns are equally bad, there are important distinctions that are critical to understanding gun laws and their intent, and to maintain credibility as an informed debater.
Contrary to what Judith Bruder stated in her Dec. 28 guest column, the Newtown gunman was not armed with “automatic weapons.” Automatic weapons are “machine guns” that continue to fire as long as the trigger is kept pulled and the ammunition holds out. “Assault weapons” are actually “semi-automatic” weapons that fire one round for each pull of the trigger and use the pressurized gas resulting from the detonation of one round to eject the spent round and chamber the next one. The trigger must be pulled repeatedly for each consecutive round to be fired from an assault weapon. They do not “spray bullets” as you sometimes hear journalists report.
Semi-automatic weapons are not necessarily “assault weapons,” however. A semi-automatic weapon only becomes an assault weapon when it has certain federally defined features such as a detachable magazine, folding stock, flash suppressor, etc.
Many generations of respected hunters have relied on semi-automatic weapons to provide more than one chance to hit their target, or to hit more than one target when allowable.
We all want less gun violence in our communities. But the genie is already out of the bottle and guns are with us to stay, like it or not. The best we can hope for is intelligent debate about limits on gun use and availability, and to recognize the pervading societal impact of violent behavior in pro sports, movies, TV shows and video games. Using the correct terms about guns will help to ensure that one’s views are at least taken seriously by those who defend gun rights.