David Op’t Hof: Only banning assault weapons will stop the slaughter

Gun Rights

Today on my way back from the store, I came upon a father and daughter riding their bikes. As they came towards me, I couldn’t help noticing the little girl’s huge smile. She was about 3 or 4 and her short legs were pedaling as fast as could be. I smiled as I remembered what a big milestone it is in the life of a child to learn how to ride a bicycle.

For a moment, a shadow passed over my mind as I remembered the children killed at Uvalde, Sandy Hook, Columbine and Parkland and how they will never ride a bike again, nor will they ever teach their children to ride a bike.

Why are we tolerating the slaughter of innocent children at schools? For that matter why are we tolerating the mass murder of innocent Americans in stores, malls and the workplace. The common denominator in most shootings is an AR-15 assault-style rifle developed for the military, where soldiers need to be able to shoot a lot of bullets in a hurry to stop the assault of an enemy.

There is no valid use of assault rifles by ordinary citizens. Hunting? I pity the hunter who needs an assault rifle to bag a deer. Protecting your family from a burglar? A handgun is far more appropriate.

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Some have suggested arming teachers. Will teachers have AR-15s and body armor? That’s the only way a teacher could stop a shooter who bursts into a classroom and opens fire on her students.

The gun control legislation recently passed by Congress is a good start, and they deserve our praise for doing something. But the Safer Communities Act doesn’t do enough. We need a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons.

The Big Lie promoted by the NRA and other gun advocacy groups is that if Congress passes gun control, they’re going to take away all your guns. Well, did anybody come take your guns when the new gun control law was passed? Nobody wants to take your guns. Not even your AR-15. Keep them. But outlaw the sale of assault rifles from this day on. It’s time to be pro-life for the born as well as the unborn.

Here’s a few examples of what happens when a shooter does not have a semi-automatic rifle:

1. On November 7, 2021, a gunman opened fire at the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church. He approached the altar while waving a gun in the air. The pastor tackled the gunman before he fired any shots. No one was killed.

2. On May 16, 2022, a gunman opened fire on parishioners at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods California. While he paused to reload, Pastor Billy Chang hit him with a chair and bystanders hog-tied the shooter with an electrical cord. Four people were killed in this incident. Too many, but less than 20.

3. On May 17, 2022, a gunman opened fire at a church potluck at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church near Birmingham, Alabama. A church member hit the shooter with a chair and pinned him to the ground until law enforcement arrived. The shooter had a handgun. Three people died in this incident. Still too many, but lots less than with an assault rifle.

When a shooter has a handgun, bystanders have a chance to stop them. When the shooter has an AR-15, many people will be mowed down before anyone can stop him.

It is time to ban the sale of assault rifles. That’s the only way to stop the slaughter at our schools, parades and businesses.

David Op’t Hof

David Op’t Hof, Lehi, is a retired educator, writer and philosopher.

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