Letter: Past time to address easy access to assault weapons

From: Jenny Heichelbech


After another horrific mass shooting Feb. 14 at a school in Parkland, Florida, by a young man armed with a legally obtained AR-15 rifle, I am compelled to step outside of my comfort zone, asking for the help of other concerned citizens.

I am not anti-gun, but I am pro-common sense. Military grade weapons have no business in the hands of non-military persons and, much like grenade launchers or surface-to-air missiles, they have no justifiable civilian purpose.

The issues surrounding gun violence are many and varied: poor parenting, mental health, illegal and prescription drugs, glorification of violence in our culture and so on. All of these issues are worthy of discussion, but none of them directly cause mass murder. Other countries around the world struggle with these same issues, and yet they do not have the same incidence of mass murder with a rapid-firing, large magazine firearm. Why?

The common denominator in all mass shootings is equipment. Easy access to assault weapons and hardware such as bump stocks are a fundamental part of the problem in the U.S. No one becomes a mass shooter without a mass-shooting gun.

Currently in Indiana, just as in Florida, a person as young as 18 can legally buy an AR-15 like the one used in the Parkland attack for as little as $400 and with no waiting period. As a mother of school-age children in Columbus, my greatest fear for the safety of my kids doesn’t come from an illegal immigrant or a gang member, but from an attack of a disaffected white male armed with an assault weapon.

At the most recent Third House session, state Rep. Milo Smith and state Sen. Greg Walker, both of Columbus, were reluctant to acknowledge that easy access to these weapons of mass destruction is a problem that needs addressed. Why do they feel the need to defend the sale of assault weapons? The right to be armed doesn’t mean the right to be militarized. I want both men to answer a simple question: Do they or their campaigns receive donations from the National Rifle Association? If so, how much? “We the People” need to know the amount of influence we may be up against.

The victims of Parkland, Sandy Hook and too many other massacres are crying out for adults to leave their comfort zones and dare to raise their voices to demand that our legislators stop the scourge of assault weapons, regardless of party affiliation and despite powerful and moneyed lobbyists. We must be answerable to our children when they ask us to protect them.

People should make a phone call, send an email, write a letter, attend a rally or visit their legislator’s office, or join with other groups such as Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety or the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Contact information for all area state and federal legislators can be found at www.bcindivisible.org.

Together we can make a difference, hopefully before Columbus becomes the next Parkland.