How many do we need and how easy should it be to get them?
On Sunday in The Blade, I'll talk about guns -- a subject that gets a lot of people, well, hotter than a pistol.
After Adam Lanza massacred 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December, many people, including politicians, started to talk about gun control, including reinstating the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
For the column, I wanted to show just how easy it is to get an assault weapon with high-capacity magazines. Twe weeks ago, I went with a friend to the Gibraltar Trade Center near Detroit and bought an AR-15 assault-style rifle with two 30-round magazines.
The dealer I bought the gun from was licensed. So she had to conduct a background check. Even then, it took me about 10 minutes to buy the gun. All I needed was a credit card and state ID.
The biggest obstacle in getting one of these bad boys might be supply and demand. There's been a run on assault weapons, other guns, and ammunition since Congress and the President, after Newtown, started to debate an assault weapons ban and other gun-safety measures. Assault-style rifles, dealers told me, had gone up $500 in the last couple of months. I paid $1,200 for mine, and it was about the cheapest one I could find.
Some states require waiting periods for handguns, and you have to be 21. But under federal law, there's no waiting period for assault weapons. Anyone 18 who can pass a background check can buy as many as he or she can pay for. People who can't pass a background check can always get someone else who can to buy the gat for them. They're called "straw purchasers" and they're illegal but common.
For Sunday's column, I also talked to the relatives of people who were killed with these weapons.
I own a couple of handguns myself, and decent people can disagree on this issue. But we already have nearly 300 million guns in this gun-crazy country, including maybe 4 million assault weapons that owners could keep under a new ban.
My opinion: We don't need any more assaault weapons with high-capacity magazines on our streets or in our homes. They're built to do what Adam Lanza did: Kill as many people as quickly as possible.