Letters to the Editor

Gun control: What can we do as citizens? | Letters

After reading the Dec. 17 article in the Seattle Times titled “Popular rifle used in recent mass killings,” I feel that I disagree with gun enthusiasts who sing the praise of the AR-15 and its customized features unless it is only used for hobbyists and recreational purposes.

As a responsible citizen and a volunteer in the Federal Way community, I do agree that the AR-15 is favored by target shooters in competitions and by hunters who stalk small game and deer.

I also believe in the passionate ownership of gun owners, the Second Amendment, and applaud people in Federal Way who are providing gun safety classes, self-defense, etc.

This was the weapon of choice for Adam Lanza (note: he did not purchase this weapon, it was his mother's) to kill 20 young children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. This was also a massacre that has horrified the nation.

The rifle has had increasing appearances in rampage killings. As an example, it was used by James E. Holmes, who is accused of opening fire and killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, and by Jacob Roberts, who killed two people and then took his own life in a Portland shopping mall.

My concern is about the easy access of purchasing this weapon and ammunition — and why people would buy such a weapon for self-defense or any other reason than recreational use. (target shooting, etc.)

I understand that the AR-15 weapon, which is made and designated for war, can wrongly be blamed for the actions of a few individuals whose goal is to kill a lot people in a short amount of time.

According to the Times article, this weapon is also increasingly used in the killing of police officers whose vests provide little protection against such firearms. Young children don’t have much of a chance to survive under these circumstances.

The Times also reported that some advocates have argued for banning assault rifles. Some of them also acknowledged that the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was inadequate and largely ineffective.

Defenders cite statistics indicating that unlike handguns or shotguns, rifles account for only a fraction of U.S. homicides.

On Dec. 18, an article in the Times mentioned that there are rapidly shifting attitudes toward gun control in the aftermath of the massacre in Connecticut. There could be new efforts to curb access to guns with possible upcoming restrictions.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said “everything should be on the table” as gun control is debated in the coming weeks and months.

The NRA (National Rifle Association), long one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, would face a strong test of its influence to fend off tougher restrictions. They have declined interviews since the shootings. The group’s Twitter account went silent, and they deactivated their Facebook page.

So what do we do as citizens? I am by no means an expert on gun control. But I do feel that I have some common sense as related to this issue that others would also agree on.

I have worked in the Federal Way School District and have two grandchildren in a private school with secluded buildings. Both of these school environments work hard to train staff, teachers, provide lockdown, earthquake drills, etc., to provide safety for our students. It is a complex problem that will require a complex solution.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia called the recent shootings a game changer, and other officials will be introducing legislation to help in the search for understanding and answers.

We as citizens do not want to painstakingly have to see a recreation of this horrifying event and the psychological impact of surviving students, however resilient they can be at times.

I feel it is our duty as parents, grandparents and friends to contact our legislators that we have elected and explain our concerns. Otherwise, another important news story will come up and this might get swept under the rug.

Maureen Hathaway, Federal Way


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