Op-Ed: Assault rifles have no place in a civilized society

Posted Jan 18, 2013 by Karl Gotthardt
The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees the right of US citizens to bear arms. This was reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court in decisions of 2008 and 2010, removing the requirement to be a member of militias.
Assault rifles
Assault rifles
Matthew Stinson
President Obama, during his announcement, reaffirmed the second amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms.
While the author is not a supporter of the president's ideology, on this issue he must be given a pass. There is no room for AK47s on the streets of America, nor a need for ammo clips with large capacity.
For those of us living outside of the US, it is incomprehensible how this attitude persists in the US. Why would a civilized society condone arming its citizens with assault rifles in the name of self-protection?
In the aftermath of Newtown and Aura massacres and the possible tightening of gun controls, along with an assault weapons ban, gun sales in the US have surged. There have been what could be considered outrageous ads by the National Rifle Association (NRA) promoting the gun culture, with one even taking aim at the president's children, calling him an elitist, whose children are provided with body guards. The ad suggests that the president protects his daughters, while providing gun free zones for regular children.
While the right to bear arms is enshrined in the US constitution, one must question the US mentality. Gun sales have spiked in the US since the Newtown and Aura massacres and with the announcement of the establishment of the Biden task force. Demand for assault weapons spiked, which in turn increased the cost of such weapons. One could say that resisting change in the gun culture makes good business sense.
The initial NRA ad, which featured the speaker with an assault rifle and the second one featuring the president's kids crossed the line in my opinion. Head of States in all western countries are protected by security personnel, including their children. Whether or not the president should have used kids as prompts for his announcement is debatable. In my opinion kids should never be used to make a point, but there will be two views on that.
The United States needs to step into the 21st century along with other civilized nations. While the right to bear arms can be maintained, it needs to tighten up the control of weapons. President Obama did just that with his proposals. The attitude that guns don't kill, people do is getting old. If the streets weren't flooded with guns, there would be less available.
In Canada you need a firearm safety course, a firearm acquisition certificate and a comprehensive background check before you can obtain a weapon or ammunition. There will be the argument that criminals can always obtain guns and this is true, but if there are less guns around to start with there will be fewer available for criminals.
US guns smuggled into Canada are the major source of guns for criminals. If the US tightened controls and required transaction records of sales, this smuggling would in all likelihood be reduced.
While changing attitudes in the US will be a slow process, the effort should not go unnoticed. Reasonable people should see the need to rid America of assault weapons and the over capacity military style clips. The real question has to be "How many more people have to be killed in the US before the light bulb comes on?"