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Do We Need A Ban on Assault Rifles?

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, the owner of a military and law enforcement supply store in Chesterfield says such laws and regulations won't solve the problem.

The tragic death of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut at the hands of a heavily armed gunman has ignited a national debate about gun control, specifically the access of private citizens to military-grade gear. 

A federal ban on assault rifles passed in 1994 under Bill Clinton expired in 2004 and now many gun control advocates are calling for it to be reinstated, but Chesterfield resident Chad Weinman and CEO of TacticalGear.com says that won't solve the problem. 

The online company has a brick-and-mortar facility located on Edison Road in Chesterfield and primarily sells clothing and equipment such as holsters, vests and dynamic entry tools commonly used by tactical law enforcement teams or military personnel, but not firearms or ammunition.

"We face a lot of criticism that the equipment and apparel we provide is accessible to the general public," Weinman said, adding that he fully supports the right people have to acquire and procure such gear.   

TacticalGear.com particularly came under the spotlight over the summer when national media revealed that the company had sold a vest used by the shooter who opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20.  

In response, Weinman's said it's his view that such accusations are misguided. 

"Legislation that aims to limit the availability of firearms, ammunition or gear is not going to solve the problem," he said. "These are mentally disturbed individuals, they are going to find a way to create havoc if they are hell-bent on doing so."

The tragedy in Newtown, however, may be shaping the national debate on guns, particularly towards restrictions on high-powered rifles like the .223 Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook massacre. 

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of Virginia has long been a gun rights ally, but he indicated a changing tone during an interview with MSNBC Monday. 

"I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle, I don't know anybody who needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting," Manchin said.

Weinman said people who sell tactical gear such as himself or weapons such as assault rifles (a term he called a misnomer) are often subject to the misconception that they primarily serve random citizens. 

"The primary customer is law enforcement professionals and military service members above all else. They are 90 percent of our business," Weinman said. "What gets a lot of attention is when someone uses that equipment irresponsibly or in a way that creates harm."

Similar to the stance of many gun rights advocates, Weinman said he would like to see more attention being given to what he considers the core of the problem: making sure people who with mental illnesses are diagnosed and receive the proper treatment. 

"At the end of the day, the problem is that there is a mad man with an instrument of destruction," he said. "The madman is the issue that needs to be addressed."

Jon December 18, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Yes, we need a ban on assault rifles, and high volume clips. Here's a statistic: In 1999 there were 28,874 gun-related deaths in the United States . (Source: Hoyert DL, Arias E, Smith BL, Murphy SL, Kochanek, KD. Deaths: Final Data for 1999. National Vital Statistics Reports.). So let's minimize this a bit and say 25,000 gun-related deaths in America per year. The attack on 9/11 took fewer than 3,000 lives and completely turned the country's approach to security upside down, and all of has have conceded - some more graciously than others - the necessity of giving up some individual rights to preserve our well-being as a nation. But since that time, while there have been few additional American deaths from terrorism, a quarter of a million people have died through gun-related incidents. Isn't it time we were willing to give up a little to address this monstrous problem?
Andi December 18, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Jon I agree with you 100%!!!!!! Unfortunately, I don't think there will ever be gun control. This world gets more and more violent and people seem to care less and less. The state of the world is very sad.
Michael Koch December 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
The assault weapons ban that was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which expired in 2004, did nothing measurable to prevent mass shootings. When the ban was put in place the shootings didn’t decline in any measurable way and when it was taken off they didn’t increase. If gun control worked, I would be right there with you protesting for more laws, but it doesn’t. It’s part of a larger cultural phenomenon that glamorizes violence and killing. How do you explain places like Switzerland, which has the lowest gun-related crime rate in the world, where there are requirements for the citizenry to own guns and all males are given assault rifles for their militia service? The U.S. fosters a culture of violence. History has proven that tyrannical governments murder on a scale that pales in comparison to individual mass murderers (no I'm not saying that the US gov't is tyrannical or wants to kill us) but that's the slippery slope. What is your pipe dream - to repeal the 2nd amendment and totally ban guns? If that's the case, we might as well go ahead and ban violent movies, video games, and heavy metal music with violent lyrics. Disarming innocent people doesn't protect innocent people.
Mr. Completely December 18, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Addressing a new security threat to our children, schools, women has nothing whatsoever to do with gun control. Assess the threat, gather information and formulate a new security plan. Leave the politics out of it! Killing kids in Newtown and the curreent gun laws are two unrelated issues. Quit wasting valuable time, energy, space in your head, make a plan for securing our schools now and get moving with it. Cost isn't an issue, 2nd amendment has nothing to do with it, gun control, doesn't matter. Its about security, crime prevention.
Patricia Whitt December 18, 2012 at 08:36 PM
We most definitely need a ban on the sale or use of military-grade weapons. Any other firearms should be titled to a specific owner, just as cars are. In order to carry a weapon the owner should have to pass a test and security check and be licensed. When ownership changes, the title should be transferred, just as with motor vehicles.

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