Assault weapons have no business on streets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

While we are supporters of the second amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms, we feel some provisions need to be taken into consideration for the safety of the people.

Last week, state legislators and a gun-control advocate said Ohio needs to enact a ban on military style assault weapons in case Congress and President Bush fail to extend a ban that expires in September. We couldn't agree more.

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State Rep. Tyrone Yates, a Cincinnati Democrat, introduced his proposal last Wednesday in Columbus. State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, a Cleveland Democrat, introduced a similar proposal in December and Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, attended a news conference with Yates Friday.

Renewing the ban, which covers 19 kinds of assault weapons, is just common sense. It is supported by most Americans, but adamantly opposed by the powerful gun lobby.

The 1994 ban has slowed the flow of assault weapons onto the streets. It has significantly reduced the frequency with which these guns are used in crimes. Letting it expire would undo years of work by groups fighting for sensible gun laws.

Even with the ban, manufacturers have gotten around the ban by making minor changes. People can legally, and easily, buy parts that, put together, will turn a legal gun into an illegal one.

The National Rifle Association has fought efforts to extend the federal ban. The NRA, which represents gun owners nationwide, contends that having semiautomatic weapons and other firearms would allow Americans to better defend themselves against criminals. We see little use for a weapon that seemingly serves no purpose but to mow down other human beings.

A modest federal law to restrict military style guns should make sense to any member of Congress. They need to let common sense be the guide rather than giving in to the influence of the gun lobby.