Last year's #Mission22 multi-gun championships. I'm using an AR-15. (Photo credit: Albert Yau)

I read the commentary by Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb [Weapons of war do not belong here, Viewpoints, Aug. 14] and, as expected, it was a typical anti-gun rant loaded with inaccurate and misleading information. 

An AR-15 is not a “weapon of war,” nor is it an “assault rifle/weapon.” It’s a semi-automatic rifle which doesn’t sound menacing enough so it constantly gets mislabeled. I carried real assault rifles during my 24 years in the military, mostly in Special Operations, like the M16A1E, CAR-15, and M4. All of these assault rifles are capable of firing fully automatic. 

Now about those 255 “mass shootings”: The overwhelming majority of those shootings are criminal/gang-related shootings, which cities like Chicago seem completely incapable of preventing, yet for some reason don’t cause the anti-gun mob the same ire as the shooting in El Paso. In fact, the majority of gun deaths are suicides, and the majority of gun homicides are the type you see in the neighborhoods like Englewood, Lawndale, and Austin. 

Next, the firearms used most in gun homicides are handguns, not semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15. The type of mass shootings like El Paso, although horrific and tragic, make up a very small percentage of gun deaths. You would be more likely confronted by a situation where you faced multiple attackers, like the recent carjacking event, which if all five assailants had been armed with an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine would be the right firearm for defense. 

Speaking of “who needs an AR-15 and high-capacity magazines,” just go back to Ferguson, Missouri, where business owners stood guard in front of their shops with semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns which were spared as the rioters moved on to unprotected businesses to vandalize, loot, and burn. It happened back in 1992 during the Watts riots when Koreans stood guard to protect their neighborhood. 

It’s a fact that the police will not always be there on time or at all to help you. The ludicrous gun control laws, restrictions, and bans don’t work, period. London, which has guns banned still managed to surpass NYC in homicide rate. Nobody ever talks about security, which after 9/11 skyrocketed in airports across the nation. 

When I was in Israel, training with the Golani Brigade’s Recon Company in Akko, there were members of the IDF all over, openly carrying assault rifles and sub-machine guns, and this was long before they had a terrorist group, Hamas, in control of Gaza, right in their backyard. 

I’m not advocating that level of security, but it is noteworthy that all these cowards who commit mass shootings pick on gun-free zones full of unarmed, innocent people. I took up competitive shooting last year, 3-gun matches mostly, to keep my skills sharp. Who were the people I ran into? Not just former military and LEOs, no crazed gun nuts, but men and women from all walks of life and ages, competing in a shooting sport that requires skill with a handgun, shotgun, and semi-automatic rifle (mostly AR-15s), engaging targets, under the clock, with a huge focus on safety. 

Wake up, America! The problem isn’t firearms; mass shootings are a symptom of a sick, decaying society. Focus on fixing that.

Emerson Bolen, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces sergeants major, lives in River Forest.

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