To the Editor:
On Jan. 14, Mr. John Deegan of Huntley wrote that he did not understand why a reader would propose outlawing automatic and assault type weapons since they already were banned by laws passed in the 1930s.
Of course, that legislation referred to rapid fire machine guns, which were the weapons of choice for criminals in those days. What we really are talking about today are automatic and assault-type weapons as described in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which was allowed to expire in 2004. This legislation commonly has been known as the federal assault weapons ban or semiautomatic assault weapons ban and barred the manufacture of 19 specific semi-automatic firearms, classified as "assault weapons" as well as any semi-automatic rifle, pistol, or shotgun that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine.
This law also banned possession of newly manufactured magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. After expiration of the section on Sept. 13, 2004, it is once again legal to own or possess the subject firearms as well as magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It was weapons such as these that were used in the mass killings of recent years, including those 20 children and their teachers in Newtown.
The criminals of the 1930s would be very happy with these weapons, which can discharge a large number of bullets in seconds, but there is no rational need for them in the hands of ordinary citizens.