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Although very liberal I have been a heretic when it comes to guns. With rural roots, I've always owned a gun. When I moved to the city I kept a small-bore shotgun and rifle just in case my survivalist fantasies came true and I had to eat the local wildlife. I don't have any semi-automatic weapons, but I'd never had a problem with them. I agree with the NRA that there is no such thing as an assault weapon. Any semi-automatic gun with a replaceable magazine can be called an "assault weapon." Rate-of-fire and reloading time is what makes a gun extra dangerous, not what you call it.

But with the Gabby Gifford shooting and the slaughter in Colorado, something has changed in me. I'm done defending semi-automatic weapons. There is no need for civilians to have them. A shotgun or a bolt-action rifle with a few rounds is enough for hunting. As for home defense, a short-barreled shotgun is very effective.

But what about defending democracy? Isn't that what many gun supporters want semi-automatics for? They have "Red Dawn" fantasies, or think that Obama is taking their freedom. Guns give the illusion of power and control to the otherwise powerless and manipulated millions, even though it is obvious that the authorities have more than enough firepower to put down any rebellion. Is it worth the political cost to take away these illusions?

I finally think so. The childish fantasy of watering the tree of democracy with the blood of tyrants is enabling severely mentally ill people to get ahold of very lethal weapons with horrific results.

Let's ban all semi-automatic weapons with removable clips. An owner would have five years to sell such a gun back to the government. The sooner one sells, the more the government pays. After five years it would be a felony to be in possession of any such weapon.


I'm done with catering to crazies. Time to grow up folks and see what else there may be out there to fulfill your need for power and relevance. How about joining the PTA or coaching little league?

With a Perspective, this is Neal Fishman.

Neal Fishman owns a Winchester Lever Action 30-30, but used the law for 32 years to help protect California's coast and oceans.