Column: We need to ban military assault weapons


Photo credit: Tracy Droz Tragos

Lieutenant Donald Glenn Droz (right) poses with his crew on board his Navy ship in Vietnam. Droz was killed in battle on Apr 12, 1969, at 25 years old, leaving behind a wife, Judith Droz Keyes, and three-month-old daughter, Tracy Droz Tragos, whom he only met once.

By Charlotte Tragos, Columnist

The AR-15 is a weapon of war that has killed thousands of Americans within our own borders and has no place in the hands of civilians.

The weapon of war was developed in 1956 as a lightweight rifle that can fire a high-velocity, lightweight, small-caliber cartridge and replaced the M-14 as the standard issue rifle for US armed forces during the Vietnam War.  Carried above by my grandfather Lieutenant Donald Glenn Droz, the AR-15 was “easier to shoot and had a higher shooting accuracy.”  The Giffords law center to prevent gun violence says guns like the AR-15 with “large-capacity magazines are often used in mass shootings because they allow a shooter to keep firing for longer periods of time, increasing casualties and reducing victims’ ability to escape or intervene.” These military weapons can also be easily purchased legally.

At Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, a man entered the school with his mother’s Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, an AR-15 variety that his mother had purchased the year prior. After killing his mother, the shooter killed 20 children and six adults. 

In 2015, at the Inland Regional Center, 14 people were killed and 22 others were seriously injured when two shooters armed with an AR-15 entered the building. They had purchased the deadly weapon legally.

In 2017, a shooter opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada with an AR-15 and other weapons. He killed 60 people and wounded 411, the injury total was 867 people. It is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in modern US history. The weapons were legally purchased in Nevada, California, Texas and Utah.

In 2018, a shooter wielding an AR-15 killed 17 people at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The killer bought the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack legally a year prior to the attack. The shooting remains the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.

Weeks ago Biden proposed six new gun laws. The first to stop the proliferation of “ghost guns.” The second to “make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.” The third to publish model “red flag” legislation for all states.

The fourth to invest in evidence-based community violence interventions. The fifth to make the justice department issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. And, the sixth to nominate David Chipman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. But none of these proposed legislations address our addiction to assault weapons.

While we have agreed to protect the people’s right to bear arms, we have also agreed that certain weapons of war are inappropriate for regular people to carry. The rocket-propelled grenade launcher, the weapon that killed my grandfather in Vietnam, is regulated under the National Firearms Act (“NFA”) which makes it illegal to possess “destructive devices” such as grenades.

We can’t stop people from wanting to hurt other people, but we can certainly limit how many people they can hurt by expanding the definition of destructive devices to include weapons like the AR 15 that are clearly not made for “self-protection.”