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Letter: Ban semi-automatics

Ban semi-automatics

Semi-automatic guns like the AR-15 used to massacre 20 children and six staff at the Newtown, Connecticut school plus the mother of the shooter must be banned. The United States government must not permit either possession or use of semi-automatic guns nor the large-capacity ammunition clips that go with them.

Within 12 days in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 people, the Australian government responded by announcing a bipartisan deal to ban semi-automatic weapons like the one the killer used.

The Australian law banned not only new sales of (such) semi-automatic weapons but ownership; the weapons are flatly illegal under all circumstances. It is a comprehensive and effective ban. To emphasize the seriousness of its intent, the Australian government then bought back 650,000 of the weapons at retail price plus 10 percent.

When the gun law was passed in Australia, there was a very powerful gun lobby, much like ours in the United States. However, strong public opinion overwhelmed the politicians and the very successful law was passed.

The law also raised the standard of how one qualifies for a gun license.

Since passage of the Australian laws, there has not been a mass shooting in Australia. The number of gun deaths is about half what it was before the law.

The Australian law has saved hundreds of lives a year and some $500 million in economic costs of violence.

After the tragedy in Newtown, the United States must take immediate and comprehensive action to abolish semi-automatic guns from our country. It worked in Australia, and it can work here.

In addition to changes in the law, we must have changes in awareness of terrible tragedies that guns can cause.

Selling children’s toy guns and fostering gun-related video games in family movie arcades perpetuates the culture of violence. I hope our local stores as well as towns and states will promote a culture of peace where toy guns and gun-laden arcade machines are no longer sold.

HATTIE NESTEL

Athol

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