In her recent letter, Nancy M. Simmons discusses a disturbed student she once had and finishes by saying “Thank God, he didn’t have an AR-15-style weapon. They were illegal in the 1990s. He could easily have gotten one today.” ["Better off not mixing disturbed kids and guns," March 7].
Poppycock! Unlike their fully automatic progenitor, the U.S. armed forces’ M-16, AR-15-style rifles are semiautomatic and have never been “illegal.” Incidentally, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office in Miami, no laws were violated in the procurement of the weapon used at the Parkland High School massacre.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of certain semiautomatic firearms it defined as “assault weapons” and large capacity (over 10 rounds) ammunition magazines (“clips”). It did not make illegal the existing “assault weapons” already in the hands of millions of law-abiding U.S. citizens. Those firearms and magazines, including the AR-15, are not any easier to obtain now than they were in the 1990s.
Finally, regarding Ms. Simmons letter, if a teacher or someone from the school administration had gotten more involved correcting the disturbed student’s behavior, they could have proved him wrong about being in the newspaper one day. The same thing goes for the local sheriff's office where the massacre occurred last month. Had they done something about the 22 calls made to report the insane behavior of the murderer, the bloodshed would not have taken place.
Rey Marsella, Lakeland