Add assault rifles to NFA regulations

To the editor:

We are all familiar with gangster movies set in the 1920s: snappy-dressing thugs carrying “Tommy Guns” spraying bullets indiscriminately from a speeding sedan. But in movies set in the 1940s, things have changed. In shoot-outs, the criminals are firing handguns, not submachine guns. What changed? It was the enactment of the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934.

The NFA imposed registration and regulation upon automatic weapons. The First World War had unleashed a glut of these weapons of war into the nation. Cheap and plentiful, they found their way into the hands of criminals. The outcry following the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 led to the passage of the NFA five years later. Lightning speed by Congressional standards. Mass killings like the Valentine’s Day murders became a bad memory, until the current glut of assault rifles.

The regulations imposed by the NFA are fairly benign. In short, restrictions on importation, registration and taxing of new manufacture, and the same for transfer of ownership. Please note that private ownership of these weapons is still legal. I was just watching a YouTube video of an individual renting out sessions in his restored WW2-era aircraft ball-turret. The twin fifty caliber heavy machineguns mounted in the turret can shred an engine block. Happy customers pay the man to climb in and then fire away. All legal and aboveboard.

The key is REGISTRATION and REGULATION (R&R). Our own history shows that it works! Sadly, fear-mongering by firearm manufacturers and their stooges in the current NRA leadership are portraying the issue as ALL-GUNS versus NO-GUNS. They do not like to talk about the NFA of 1934, because simple R&R had a profound effect on criminal use of a class of weapon, without mass confiscation and without prohibition. The NFA is a direct contradiction to the idea of ALL-GUNS versus NO-GUNS.

It should be a simple matter to add Assault Rifles to the NFA, making them subject to the same R&R as sawed-off shotguns and fully automatic weapons. Assault Rifles are prevalent in mass shootings due to their compact size, large magazines, and the horrific wounds they cause. They have no place as either personal protection nor as hunting weapons. Yet, instead of this simple change, involving neither an outright ban nor mass confiscation, the NFA itself is under constant attack by the current leadership of the NRA and their allies in Congress.

This needs to change. Leadership needs to change, both in Washington and within the NRA. To effect these changes, our attitudes need to change. Educate yourselves. The information is out there. We have common-sense, effective regulation IN PLACE TODAY that allows for responsible ownership of rather extreme weaponry, yet discourages use by criminals and madmen. Assault rifles need to be added to this list.

Jim Bodine

New Ulm

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