In May of 1985 I was a high school senior in Calabasas just turning 18, from a good family with a lawyer for a father. In June I graduated and on the night of graduation, I was involved in a fight at my grad party. Rumors were spread and the next day, I was thrown out of my home, humiliated in front of my family and friends. Enraged and suicidal, I drove to a local shooting range to rent a handgun. I wanted to kill myself. They told me I was too young for a handgun, but would an Uzi 9-millimeter work instead? They said it was classified as a rifle. I rented the Uzi only to find it too complicated to operate on my first try.
I decided to confront the person who had attacked me and make him take back things he’d said. I bought an Uzi and 500 rounds of ammo, and went looking for him. I figured he’d take back the story or I’d shoot up his car. When I confronted him, we got into an argument and I shot him 11 times. Today, I am 21 and serving a 17-years-to-life sentence in prison for shooting a friend.
What could have changed this and what do we want to do about assault rifles? I could have bought an AK-47, Uzi, AR-15, or a MAC-10, but not a handgun. I believe a cooling-off period must be applied to rifles just as it is applied to handguns. Given 2 or 3 weeks to evaluate my situation, I would not be here today. Further, the minimum age for rifle purchases should be raised to 21, as it is for handguns. It sounds bizarre that an 18 year old can buy an Uzi over the counter but not a handgun, yet that’s the law.
Finally, we must realize that banning assault rifles would be like putting a Band-Aid on a blown out tire--it just won’t solve the problem. Consider: There is no difference between a semiautomatic Uzi rifle and a semiautomatic handgun.
Personally, I would rather see people carrying Uzis around than small concealed handguns. At least you can see the Uzi. The handgun is going to disappear into people’s pockets--very dangerous. You can fire 15 rounds from a semiautomatic handgun as fast as you can from a semiautomatic assault rifle, and all assault rifles are sold as semiautomatic.
So let’s stop putting Band-Aids on these problems and look to viable solutions. Raise the age and initiate waiting periods for all firearms. Anything more, or less, simply won’t work.
ROBERT M. ROSENKRANTZ
Rosenkrantz is serving his sentence at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.