The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion An assault weapons ban won’t work

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) holds up a picture of an assault rifle as she makes a point during a House Judiciary Committee meeting in September 2019. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
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The gun-control bill Democrats hope to pass does not contain a provision outlawing the sale of assault weapons because they know that sufficient votes to pass it do not exist, as President Biden noted in his speech last Thursday [“Biden on gun violence: ‘Enough,’ ” front page, June 3]. Although I and many others would like to see the ban on assault weapons reinstated, its benefit would be marginal.

Sadly, more than 20 million AR-15-style assault weapons are already in circulation in the United States. Consequently, I’m afraid that this apparently endless cycle of mass killings is destined to continue. The only answer would be to outlaw the manufacture of assault weapons for sale to anyone other than the Defense Department and to order all civilians in possession of an assault weapon to surrender it within 30 days or face fines and imprisonment.

No civilian has need of an assault weapon. Of course, given the broken state of our mostly vain, greedy and corrupt members of Congress, such a law will not be sponsored, let alone passed. It should be obvious now to any rational citizen that the American experiment in government is a failure.

Louis Candell, Williamsburg, Va.

Could a probationary period be required for all purchasers of military-style guns before they receive delivery of their purchase? A probation period would require all purchasers of military-style guns to register with their local authorities; attend mandatory classes; complete social profiles, personality surveys and background checks; pass practical tests at firing ranges; and agree to regular check-in visits with gun probation officers during their cooling-off period. When their probation is satisfied, their names would then be placed on a public registry in the community and stickers would be issued for their vehicles, Real ID driver’s licenses and gun cases. Finally, they would be cleared to receive delivery of their firearm.

Kate Cohen

counterpointA question for those who say more faith will prevent gun violence: How?

The costs of implementing this probation program can come from an extra fee charged at the time of purchase to defray these safety check expenses. The goal is to slow down impulse buying of military-style guns, build in a cooling-off period and give authorities a chance to identify troubled gun buyers to monitor more closely. These steps might curb some of the impulsiveness that leads to gun violence in our communities.

Susan McFalls, Reston

Former homeland security secretary Jeh Charles Johnson was right in his June 2 Thursday Opinion essay, “It’s time to show the real horror of mass shootings. In pictures.” In addition to forcing people to see the reality of mangled bodies, we also need to instill revulsion of the weapons that do this damage.

Americans radically changed smoking habits thanks, in part, to photographs of corroded lungs and throats. So, for every scene of carnage, let’s superimpose pictures of the high-powered rifles and pistols the assassin used. By visually coupling the bloodshed of children, teachers, doctors, moms and dads with the assault weapons that mutilated them, the grotesque can become the reviled.

Meg Maguire, Washington

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