Common sense guidelines for the ownership and use of assault weapons suggest they should be restricted to military and tactical law enforcement. There are three important reasons these groups can safely handle assault weapons and the civilian population cannot.

1. Training: both military and law enforcement units undergo rigorous training that includes both the safe use of the weapon and the rules of engagement. Civilians do not have this training, which is regularly updated for military and law enforcement.

2. Discipline: to become a functioning member of a fighting unit, discipline is a key part of training. Those without personal discipline wash out. Little in the civilian world can duplicate the discipline of military and law enforcement unit training.

3. Unit cohesion: both the military and tactical law enforcement work in units or squads that have a degree of unit cohesion. If a member begins to go off the rails under the pressure of combat or constant conflict, the other members of the team know and can step in. In the civilian world, as we have seen with these killers using assault weapons in mass shootings, they are loners. They do not have the unit providing a measure of protection.

America is not safe, and these horrific acts of savagery are becoming more frequent. Assault weapons are the weapons of choice for mass shooters. These weapons do not belong in the civilian population.

I'm a veteran and a mother. I would ask our leaders to use their moral courage to support an assault weapons ban immediately and forever in America.

Hate is not mental illness. Hate is a choice. Buying an assault weapon is a choice. Drawing up a list of targets is a choice. Aiming and firing a weapon at children is a choice. Doing nothing in response to the killing is a choice.

SARAH WITTE

ROANOKE

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