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Missoulian mailbag

This is in response to the "Ban new assault gun sales in state" letter to the editor (March 2).

While I support common-sense gun regulations, it's an emotional topic and it's very easy to get off track and inflame the discussion if we don't use clear and accurate word and descriptions.

Michael O'Lear says, "Ban all assault weapons (semi-auto rifles)..." Unfortunately, he's conflating terms.

A semi-automatic rifle or pistol is where some of the energy from firing a round is used to chamber the next round. Period. That's all that semi-automatic means. I'm sure that most, if not nearly all, hunters, target shooters, etc., find that to be a tremendous convenience.

An assault weapon is one that is designed for military, yes, assaults. Typically, an assault weapon has features like the ability to fire at a high rate of speed (switchable between semi- and fully automatic) and accept detachable magazines that can hold large number of rounds. Generally, assault weapons use cartridges that have more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle.

Civilian assault-style weapons are restricted to semi-automatic and come in all varieties of firepower. Aftermarket devices can make them essentially fully-automatic.

Using correct words and descriptions matters.

Ken Dawes,


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