I was a little girl, squinting against the white summer sun while I played in the hot sand. A few feet away my parents, lying belly down, were target shooting, having a fine afternoon. A Navy man, my father was proud of his post-war collection of handguns and rifles, which he displayed on a pegboard in our family room. It was a hobby.

Having some small familiarity with this fraught subject, I am arguing for the ban of the AR-15, a weapon without reasonable civilian use. Mass shootings target our modes of community: concerts, schools, places of worship, movies, grocery stores. These are worth protection and compromise. What we must do with our shock and rage and prayers is come together and start the difficult conversations necessary to find the acceptable middle. It’s a matter of conscience.

I did some research. Did you know …

•      The “AR” in AR-15 stands for ArmaLite Rifle, its first manufacturer (not “automated” nor “assault”). The patent lapsed and now there are many manufacturers of AR’s.

•      AR’s are prized for being modular, customizable, and have less recoil than other rifle designs. “Automatic” mode utilizes the firing energy of one bullet to chamber the next round. As long as you hold the trigger, it keeps firing.

•      Combat troops often fire “semi-automatic” mode (one bullet per trigger pull) because it is easier to control and more accurate over distances. (Jennifer Masaa, “The Trace”)

•      The AR round creates a shockwave, destroying soft tissue as it enters. The exit wound of a single AR bullet is the size of an orange. It is useless for hunting because it destroys the meat.

•      AR manufacturers pursued product placements in first-person shooter video games.

•      The AR is the ‘Formula One’ of guns, the weapon of choice for mass murderers because you can be a lousy shot.

•      “There is no reason for a civilian to own an AR-15 other than to kill other civilians” (Palm Beach Post). It’s lousy for hunting, perhaps useful for hobby, sport, or showing off to friends.

The domino theory of gun safety laws and other gun advocacy tropes:

•      “If we enact anything, other gun rights will fall like dominos.” This is just as false a premise as our 1960s foreign policy.

•      “Criminals don’t obey laws.”

•      “Background checks aren’t effective.”

•      “Bad guys with guns only fear good guys with guns.”

•      “Why pass laws when criminals don’t obey laws?”

While there may be a grain of truth in the first three, they have little to do with the difficult conversations we need to have now.

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee rights to assault weapons, or muskets? Should it matter?

•      “Neither the law nor the Second Amendment prevent Congress from banning assault weapons.” (Palm Beach Post)

•      Just seven states have banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York, and the District of Columbia. Where art thou Illinois?

•      The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited magazines of more than 10 bullets. It has expired. It can be renewed.

Guns are an indelible part of our American landscape. We must learn how to live with the millions of assault rifles circulating in our neighborhoods. We should be able to agree on how to regulate all firearms sensibly to protect what we should cherish most — our families, our neighbors, and friends.

My dad’s guns?

When Kennedy was shot he sold them, each and every one. It was a matter of conscience.

Karen Muriello is a 44-year Oak Park resident, a retired web communications specialist, who served as deputy village clerk for the village of Oak Park, 2005-2010.

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