To the Editor:
Having read Mr DeBlasio’s comments to my April 5, letter, I want to keep the conversation going. Mr DeBlasio has chosen to dismiss the person expressing opinions he disagrees with, thinking that by doing this he’s dismissed the argument as well. The issues facing us are about public health and safety, and not about who is qualified to make decisions about the definition of an assault rifle. I reaffirm my belief that certain types of firearms ought to be regulated and kept out of the hands of the general public. My conclusion is drawn from personal knowledge and not from ignorance as Mr. DeBlasio assumes.
Since it seems to matter, I’ll share some of my experiences that are relevant. I retired as a Major after a 22-year career in the National Guard. I enlisted in the infantry and later transferred to the Field Artillery. I qualified with individual and crew-served weapons and later learned to command and control 105mm and nuclear capable 155mm Howitzers. Even though my basic training occurred over 40 years ago, I still recall the lessons learned about the functioning and ballistic characteristics of the M16 - the Army issue equivalent to the civilian model AR-15.
One reason this rifle is so effective is because of the action of the bullet once it enters a human body. The bullet tumbles causing it to fragment into two or more pieces. These fragments zig-zag through the body. An entry wound in the shoulder may exit in the middle of the spine. A typical entry wound is the size of a pencil, while an exit wound can be the size of a fist.
Another characteristic of this weapon that makes it so lethal is the shock absorber buried in the stock that minimizes recoil. It stabilizes the weapon. The weapon has so little kick back that even a child can fire it. On fully automatic, the muzzle rises less than an inch which makes it very accurate when emptying a 10-round clip. Because it is capable of chewing up ammo at an amazingly fast rate, it’s difficult to keep soldiers supplied with enough ammo to keep feeding its hungry muzzle.
This is the weapon, developed for the military over 50 years ago, that was brought into Sandy Hook Elementary School to launch an attack on first graders.
I also want to share one other aspect of my personal history which I think is relevant. I was a public school teacher for 38 years – 28 of them spent in an elementary school much like Sandy Hook Elementary. I saw nearly 3,000 children enter kindergarten with their whole lives in front of them. They look to us adults for safety and security. Let’s not fail them. The question I ask now is this, “How can we help each other get through this debate to a solution?”
30 Still Hill Road, Sandy Hook April 15, 2013