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If we, as a society, want to effectively act in response to mass shootings across this nation, it is incumbent upon us to demand that Congress address the availability of semi-automatic weapons.

These, like automatic weapons, are gas operated. This is the technology, developed before the First World War for military use, by which semiautomatic and automatic weapons work. They use some of the gas produced by the explosion of a cartridge when it is fired. Without this technology it is much harder to spray bullets into a group. That’s why automatic weapons are banned in this country, as supported by the NRA at the time of its passage.

If we had the courage to stand against the gun lobby and work toward ending all mass shootings, whether in public or private spaces, there would be bipartisan support for banning the manufacture, sale, importation and possession of all gas-operated weapons in America. This would not infringe anyone’s right to own guns, it would simply define what type guns they could own. And while this action wouldn’t stop all mass shootings, it would significantly reduce them.

Bolt action and lever action rifles used to be quite adequate for hunting. Even the NRA supported the notion that these were the only types appropriate for hunting and other shooting sports and self-defense. Same for revolvers as weapons of self-defense.

How we came to believe that semiautomatic guns of any type are necessary for civilians is unfathomable. Let’s work to eliminate them completely.

Robert B. Harris, Ph.D.

Albany

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