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Do We Need A Ban on Assault Rifles?

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the owner of a military and law enforcement supply store in Chesterfield says such laws and regulations won't solve the problem.

The tragic death of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut at the hands of a heavily armed gunman has ignited a national debate about gun control, specifically the access of private citizens to military-grade gear. 

A federal ban on assault rifles passed in 1994 under Bill Clinton expired in 2004 and now many gun control advocates are calling for it to be reinstated, but Chesterfield resident Chad Weinman and CEO of TacticalGear.com says that won't solve the problem. 

The online company has a brick-and-mortar facility located on Edison Road in Chesterfield and primarily sells clothing and equipment such as holsters, vests and dynamic entry tools commonly used by tactical law enforcement teams or military personnel, but not firearms or ammunition.

"We face a lot of criticism that the equipment and apparel we provide is accessible to the general public," Weinman said, adding that he fully supports the right people have to acquire and procure such gear.   

TacticalGear.com particularly came under the spotlight over the summer when national media revealed that the company had sold a vest used by the shooter who opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20.  

In response, Weinman's said it's his view that such accusations are misguided. 

"Legislation that aims to limit the availability of firearms, ammunition or gear is not going to solve the problem," he said. "These are mentally disturbed individuals, they are going to find a way to create havoc if they are hell-bent on doing so."

Assault Rifles Under Fire

The tragedy in Newtown, however, may be shaping the national debate on guns, particularly towards restrictions on high-powered rifles like the .223 Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook massacre. 

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of Virginia has long been a gun rights ally, but he indicated a changing tone during an interview with MSNBC Monday. 

"I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle, I don't know anybody who needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting," Manchin said.

Weinman said people who sell tactical gear such as himself or weapons such as assault rifles (a term he called a misnomer) are often subject to the misconception that they primarily serve random citizens. 

"The primary customer is law enforcement professionals and military service members above all else. They are 90 percent of our business," Weinman said. "What gets a lot of attention is when someone uses that equipment irresponsibly or in a way that creates harm."

Tracing the Cause of the Violence

Similar to the stance of many gun rights advocates, Weinman said he would like to see more attention being given to what he considers the core of the problem: making sure people with mental illnesses are diagnosed and receive the proper treatment. 

"At the end of the day, the problem is that there is a mad man with an instrument of destruction," he said. "The madman is the issue that needs to be addressed."

To be clear, at this point, there are no official reports stating that the gunman, Adam Lanza, suffered from mental illness. He has been described in media reports as being "social awkward" and a "loner," but not clinically diagnosed. 

A recent article in the New York Times examined the connection between mental illness and violent crime cited a study by the American Journal of Physciatry that found only about 4 percent of violence in the U.S. can be attributed to those with mental illnesses. 

The problem is also complicated by the fact that it's more difficult to predict who might commit this kind of mass killing than simply finding those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, two disorders that do carry a higher lifetime prevelance of violence.

The article cites a Columbia University professor and expert on the subject who said that most such killers are "young men who hold a grudge and are full of rage," but there are are plenty of troubled young men who never commit such atrocities. 

What do you think? Are further restrictions necessary on who can own guns, what it takes to own one and what kinds of weapons can be purchased? Or would such attempts have no real effect on reducing gun-related violence? Tell us in the comments below. 

Caffeinated December 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM
"Am I the only one who thinks that it was irresponsible of the mother (God rest her soul) to properly contain her firearms, especially knowing that her son was mentally ill?" No, she displayed very bad judgment. Katie, do you actually believe all gun owners are as responsible as you? Unsecured arms, or poorly-placed trust is all too real a possibility. If even a small percentage of gun owners demonstrates such poor judgement it presents an unacceptable situation.
Katie December 21, 2012 at 11:53 PM
OF COURSE NOT! THAT is the problem. Instead of just banning something that many people do not like, use, or understand, it should have regulation changes. One must receive a license to drive because not everyone can or should do it. Instead of just requiring the training for CCW, require it for all. Make it so these people are educated BEFORE they walk out with it. It will cost more, yes. It will be a pain in the ass, yes. But a person who wishes to legally own a gun will do it. It should be like a driver's license- require renewal, risk of suspension, must be able to show responsibility. Of course people will obtain guns illegally, but that will happen regardless. People also drive without a license every day. The fact is that banning something is rarely the solution because it isn't the law-abiding citizens whose hands you need to take them out of. You give all the control to the criminal. Look at Chicago and D.C.- strict laws, NO decrease in gun-related crimes. In fact, take a peek at Australia's numbers during the period when they enacted a gun ban. Gun related crime actually rose by about 40%. It just doesn't work. We are all too quick to rush to banning something or condemn it. We are too impatient to find another way.
Larry Lazar December 22, 2012 at 02:27 PM
We "banned" land minds, hand grenades, "IED"s, machine guns, chemical bombs, etc, etc, etc. The last time I checked, we don't have a land mine problem in this country. Yea, bans do work and these types of guns should be added to those that are taken out of society. For existing owners, they can take their weapons to their favorite firing range and leave it there under lock and key. It would be legal while at the firing range, but illegal outside of the confines of the range. re this armed criminal that is supposedly coming after you, a handgun or shotgun would jus as well if not better than some assult rifle.
DPB December 22, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I forward the words of a friend: It took ten minutes for police to arrive at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Had the maniac possesed two six shot revolvers, he could have killed 12 innocent, defenseless souls in less than two minutes, reload in less than two minutes, and killed 12 more innocent, defenseless souls in less than two minutes. They were all sitting ducks. That’s a total of 24 souls dead in 8 minutes. The police wouldn’t be able to do jack. Plus, calling this “gun violence” is like discussing drunk driving and calling it car violence. It’s ridiculous. Those brave teachers used their bare hands and feet to confront the maniac, had any of those courageous staff members had a firearm, the maniac would have a lesser chance of harming anyone else, and the school would have a greater chance of surviving. Why should police officers have the exclusive right to defend themselves with firearms to confront this maniac, but teachers in the care of 20+ children are left with only their bare hands and feet to confront this same maniac? It makes no sense whatsoever, and liberals who would defend such insane logic are sick. No doubt, had we had armed teachers, with certification and training of course, these maniacs would have run like the cowards they are. To even suggest we should punish guns, and not reform school security after this tragedy, blows my mind. Common sense has obviously escaped the liberal’s mind.
DPB December 22, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I forward these, too: The second Amendment does not grant us the people any Rights. The second Amendment, and the whole Bill of Rights for that matter, only addresses and declares certain Rights belonging to the people, but does not create any for them. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, the most influential legal commentator in early America, in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, said, concerning the second Amendment, “The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time ofanding armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facilee means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them…”
DPB December 22, 2012 at 05:12 PM
“…And yet, thought this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How is it practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.” Not only does the Bill of Rights protect an armed citizenry, but demands that they be properly trained in the use of arms. This was done even thirty years back when many high schools in the US still had target shooting competitions and rifle teams. During WW2, Maryland’s Governor called upon its citizenry to be prepared in the case of an invasion: http://marylandshallissue.org/get-informed/historical-information/preparing-maryland-invasion-ww2/
DPB December 22, 2012 at 05:13 PM
“The sincere hope of every person in Maryland is that our State may never experience invasion or attack. That we should consider such a thing as possible is in itself a terrible shock to the American state of mind. Nevertheless, with so much of the world overrun by the enemies of Democracy, and with the invasion of Java and New Guinea as well as other points in the Australian Archipelago fresh in our minds, we would be foolish, indeed, not to be prepared, as completely as possible, for any such happening, even here in Maryland… With the prospect that the regular Army units will be engaged in more important operations elsewhere, and with our State Guard and Military Police assigned to particular functions, it is felt absolutely necessary to have an additional protective force—: as a home guard—for the protection of our various communities… The Maryland Minute Men, armed with weapons with which they are thoroughly familiar from long use, operating in a community in which they are accustomed to every road and trail and stream, and aroused to fighting pitch by the knowledge that they are serving to protect their own homes, their family and all that they hold dear in life, will prove a staunch defense against any enemy activity…” Please, read the whole speech: http://marylandshallissue.org/get-informed/historical-information/preparing-maryland-invasion-ww2/
Larry Lazar December 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Great point DPB! Damn those stupid, illogical and sick liberals. I bet they are socialist/commies too. We should make them put a big embroidered "L" on shirts (Think Laverne if you are old enough) so we can identify them easier. You also have a good idea about arming the teachers too. My only qualm is that I don’t think you go quite far enough. I think every elementary school should have an armed SWAT Team in house. Oh, and a minefield and some concertina wire. Put some 50 caliber machine gun turrets on the roof and a Patriot battery on the front lawn and we’ll see how many sickos get in then. We can rename the school “Camp Patriot” or “Liberty School” for all the freedoms we saved. Too much you say? Maybe, but it’s no more “insane” than suggesting that a first grade teacher pack a Glock in her purse. How about we keep guns and bullets out of the schools eh? Or is that too "insane" of an idea?
Larry Lazar December 22, 2012 at 10:52 PM
yea, more guns! Guns Guns Guns! That idea has been working out fricken great hasn't it? How about you head out west to Aurora or up east to Newtown and tell them your idea about putting guns in the hands of teacher and students?
DPB December 22, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Larry, I appreciate your point of view, I just disagree. I am a simple man whom believes in God, accepts personal responsibility for my actions and thinks others should, too! I think the ability to keep my family and country safe with the best tools available is the right thing to do. I give thanks I was born in a country that still recognizes my God given right to liberty and freedom to do so (for however much longer that lasts)! I wish I could have your optimism that giving up my right(s) would lead to a safer world, but I know better than that.
Larry Lazar December 22, 2012 at 11:46 PM
DPB, You think guns are liberty and freedom. I don't. I think guns take freedoms. Like the freedom that 20 1st graders had to live full lives. You think if a teacher in the school had had a gun, that the killer wouldn't had been as "successful" in his effots. I think that if he did not have access to a gun in the first place that we wouldn't be having this discussion right now. Guns = Freedoms? Like the freedoms that are enjoyed in Somalia? Tribal Afghanistan or Pakistan? Is that what you want? Are those the freedoms you are hoping for? Freedoms that enable the massacre of 7 year olds? 2nd amendment guy eh? Think you are a "patriot"? When you talk about Second Amendment solutions, you’re talking about taking up arms against the United States of America, you’re talking about taking up arms against your neighbors, the children of your neighbors, and 20 dead kids in Newtown. That is is exactly what 2nd amendment "Freedoms" looks like. I repeat what I have posted many times. No one wants your God Damn hand guns, deer rifles, varmint rifles or shot guns, . Just reasonable restrictions on weapons of mass destruction that have no place in a civil society. Like HIgh velocity/high capacity weapons.
Dennis Broadbooks December 23, 2012 at 01:50 AM
@Larry Lazar: How can you on one hand say "I think if he (Adam Lonza) did not have access to a gun in the first place that we wouldn't be having this discussion right now" & then state "No one wants your G-d (nice language by the way...please tone it down, we get it you're upset) hand guns, deer rifles, varmint rifles or shot guns."? Do we get to keep our guns or not according to what you've just said? By the way, the CT perp could have massacred just as many children with a deer rifle as he did with what he had at his disposal. He also could have done that much damage with a knife or sword, just slower. We wouldn't be having this discussion about gun control if that had transpired. We'd be focusing on the individual who committed the crime & why he or she did it. Incrementalism (gradually turning the heat up on a frog placed in lukewarm water) has always been the chosen method of the left & it's in full display with this latest gun disarming effort.
Caffeinated December 23, 2012 at 02:29 AM
" By the way, the CT perp could have massacred just as many children with a deer rifle as he did with what he had at his disposal." An ignorant statement, Dennis. You are saying an AR-15 with a 30-round mag is not more efficient at killing kids than say, a lever-action 6-round hunting rifle? There is a clear delineation between a hunting rifle and a semi-automatic with high-cap mag. The Lanza nut who killed those kids had multiple mags on him, and recycled fast enough to put 11 rounds into each kid within ten minutes. No skill necessary. I defy anyone to correct me. You are actually saying that there's no difference between an AR-15and a hunting rifle in round delivery? Really? You can do 45 rounds a minute with a deer rifle? You're amazing!
Dennis Broadbooks December 23, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Never said there wasn't a difference...I just stated a fact. He could have done the exact same amount of damage with a deer rifle, just slower. A deer rifle can kill a deer & it most certainly can do lethal damage to human tissue, just at a slower pace.
Caffeinated December 23, 2012 at 03:11 AM
"He could have done the exact same amount of damage with a deer rifle, just slower" "JUST SLOWER" And that makes a world of difference, doesn't it? You stated: "By the way, the CT perp could have massacred just as many children with a deer rifle as he did with what he had at his disposal." You didn't qualify that statement. Dennis, you either don't know what you're talking about or are attempting to muddy the waters around these assault weapons. Dangerous ground, sir. These weapons are in no way in the same sphere as deer rifles.
Larry Lazar December 23, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Rights come with responsibilities. In the US it is the right of most citizens to own a gun, but they are fully responsible for how it’s used. If you as a gun owner leave your weapon out where a child or a crazy person can get a hold of it, you’re responsible for the consequences. Gun owners have failed in these responsibilities. They can not be trusted with high capacity/high velocity weapons. Your "Freedoms" do not trump the rights of your neighbors to live in a safe society -a society that is free of weapons that have no purpose other then to massacre human beings. You can not own grenades, land mines or machine guns. I can not own an apache helicopter or drones. We can not be trusted with these weapons. You wouldn't trust me with an Apache and I don't trust you with a machine gun - or an assault rifle. Regular guns are bad enough, but I understand and accept that they have a legitimate purpose. If you really feel the need to own and play with these types of weapons, I hear the Taliban is hiring.
Larry Lazar December 23, 2012 at 04:05 AM
This piece is from the Gifford Assination attempt last Jan, but it very much applies to the "2nd Amendment" argument used today: "Seriously, when you talk about “taking back America,” when you talk about “taking our guns to Washington,” when you talk about “taking them out,” when you talk about “the blood of Patriots” and civil war what exactly are you talking about? When Chuck Norris talks about a “second Revolution” what exactly is he saying? When Sharron Angle talks about “Second Amendment remedies” what does she mean? When Joe Miller talks about the Second Amendment and then hires a security company made up of radical militiamen who talk of taking up arms against the US Government, hell, who have taken up arms against the government, what exactly does he mean? When Glenn Beck stands on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and talks about Second Amendment rights, when he invites the NRA onto his show to explain why Americans, each and every one, need access to fully automatic assault weapons and 30-round magazines, what are they getting at? I’ll tell you what they mean. They mean a women, a US Congresswomen, the wife of a US serviceman and astronaut, shot point blank through the head and lying in a puddle of her own blood. Because that, my friends, is exactly what a “Second Amendment solution” looks like. But that’s not all. Not by a long shot." http://www.stonekettle.com/2011/01/sunday-morning-come-to-jesus-moment-on.html
Dennis Broadbooks December 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM
@Larry Lazar: "Gun owners have failed in these responsibilities. They can not be trusted with high capacity/high velocity weapons." That's your opinion, not a fact. The vast majority of gun owners have demonstrated consistently over the years they can & should be trusted with virtually any type of weapon. There will always be the exception & that's what the left counts on in their attacks on gun ownership. I'm 61 years of age & have never belonged to the NRA or purchased a handgun for protection. Both of those facts (not that I'm 61!) are about to change & I'm also giving serious consideration to taking a concealed carry class. All because of what's transpired here recently. While my experience with this is purely anecdotal, it appears there are a considerable number of people who are thinking the same way. A recent visit to the gun store where I plan to purchase my gun led to a discussion with the owner on whether there's been an "uptick" in sales. He said it's been overwhelming & based on the volume of customers in the store when I was there, I believe that's true. Guns are here to stay...like it or not. Gun control will continue to be a volatile topic. By the way, I'll avoid using pejorative words to slam your position on this issue if you will. Taliban?
Larry Lazar December 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM
@Dennis, re: "That's your opinion, not a fact" Do you really want me to post links to all school massacres and inadvertent deaths due to availability of unsecured guns? See the original title to this article for one piece of evidence. "Guns are here to stay...like it or not. Gun control will continue to be a volatile topic" I repeat, no one wants your hunting/sporting guns or reasonable weapons of self-defense. The fact that you can not own machine guns and shoulder fired grenade launchers is already gun control - and those controls have been extremely effective. It's now time to expand those bans to high capacity/high veloicity weapons and "man-killing" ammunition which have no reasonable sporting or defense purpose. re: "Taliban" They have the freedoms that you are seeking and it is a perfect example that directly relates to the topic. There is nothing perforative about it.
Leo Ascenzi February 07, 2013 at 04:31 AM
If you can take down a couple Apaches and a Drone with an auto/semi auto weapon, the military should recruit you to fend of a whole army. If you want to protect your country, a little auto gun isn't going to do the trick... PUT AN ANTI AIRCRAFT CANNON IN EVERY CHIMNEY!!!! -.-
Leo Ascenzi February 07, 2013 at 04:44 AM
Dave, if the government wanted to kill you, no little semi auto or even fully auto gun is going to save your butt from drones and Apaches.
Al Mount February 07, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Always remember, Obama IS the reason for the 2nd Amendment
Caffeinated February 07, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Fascinating. Please tell us more about why this President is the reason for the 2nd Amendment...
Leo Ascenzi February 07, 2013 at 08:46 PM
If you wanted to hold of Obama and the governtment, you need anti aircraft cannons, RPGs, drones and apaches. You don't have any of those items. IF the government really wanted to kill us, they would
Larry Lazar February 07, 2013 at 08:54 PM
well, I thought this conversation was dead in December and now Al brings it back to life with "Always remember, Obama IS the reason for the 2nd Amendment" I can't wait to read his explanation for this one.
Al Mount February 08, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Listen & Learn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e_aGCsybmE
Larry Lazar February 08, 2013 at 04:19 PM
I listened and learned a lot! Thanks Al. Here is what I learned: I learned how easy it is to manipulate people to take up arms against their fellow man by appealing to their deeply held beliefs and emotions through the use of patriotic music, images and ideological words like "Freedom" and "Liberty". Btw, our military is a perfect example of what we can achieve when individuals work together - as a cohesive unit, not lone soldiers. A lone soldier taking the "liberty" to do whatever he wants is soon a dead or locked up. Either way, he is certainly not a patriot.
Al Mount February 08, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Here's some more knowledge for ya.... Arguing with a liberal is like playing chess with a pigeon: The're too stupid to win, so they just walk around knock over the pieces and poop all over the board.
mrs.diaz February 26, 2013 at 08:20 PM
larry, i disagree with you about not having the right to defend our selfs, in the frist place somalia, afghanestan and pakistan and so many other eastern countries is that thier guns were taken away from the people and thats why the people are being round up and exterminated as we type, the same will happen to our country, wise-up
Leo Ascenzi February 26, 2013 at 08:33 PM
@mrs.diaz, Believe it or not, (you wont) our government doesn't want to kill us all, and were not a third world country. And don't relate this to the holocaust...

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