I read with some interest the opinion piece on the AR-15 in the Aug. 28 Wednesday Journal [Wake up, America! Guns aren’t the problem]. The piece was well written and, while we appreciate the gentleman’s military service, it was what we usually see in articles defending semi-auto rifles.

Too much is given to the differences between the various weapons such as the AR-15 versus the current M4 Carbine standard. The writer, as usually is the case, gives us the facts and figures but nowhere takes into account the horror that the weapon, semi-automatic fire or not, has had on civilians, including our school children. 

I have also fired these weapons at a shooting range and know a little about the two designs. An AR-15 fires approximately 60-120 rounds per minute depending upon the expertise of the shooter at a muzzle velocity of 3,100 fps. A standard magazine holds 30 rounds, so one needs to reload every 10-15 seconds unless one possesses an extended magazine. A M4 Carbine at full auto fires 500-650 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 2,900 fps. An AR-15 has an effective range of approximately 1,300 feet compared to, say, a Glock pistol at 160 feet. Why am I boring you with these details? Simply to admit that there’s a tremendous difference in fire power between a semi- and full-auto rifle.

The true question, however, becomes why should regular citizens require an AR-15? This weapon has fallen into too many evil hands and caused almost weekly tragedies. Why not allow shooting clubs (only) to own this type of weapon so that a person can fire the weapon in a controlled environment if desired or for competitive reasons? Each range can have some of these rifles available but under lock and key and not accessible for sale to regular citizens. There could be a buy-back program for people currently owning these rifles. They should not be available to the public; no exceptions. 

Please don’t tell us the NRA’s standard line of a good guy with a gun, et cetera. If you’re a crazed shooter, the first individual you’ll target is the person bearing a weapon. Plus, these shootings happen so quickly that often there are many dead or injured before anyone even knows what’s happening. First responders often have difficulty determining who the actual shooter might be. 

A vast majority of Americans want at the very least more detailed background checks, regardless of where the weapon is sold. Why does the NRA fight even this common-sense requirement as no one’s rights will be affected? It’s the NRA’s position that any new gun laws will present a slippery slope that will lead to more restrictions. These people are heartless! Consider the slippery slope in this country that has resulted in almost weekly mass killings? 

Something needs to be done and now.

Jim Agin is an Oak Park resident.

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