In 1969, my country sent me to war. I was a young U.S. Army infantry officer. Initially, I was stationed in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam as an adviser to a Vietnamese infantry battalion. Our unit was equipped with M-16 assault rifles. The enemy, the Viet Cong, had a wide variety of weapons including the AK-47 assault rifle. High-capacity magazines were the norm.

Over the next several months, I observed these weapons in action in many firefights with VC units. It soon became clear to me that these weapons were quite effective for their intended purpose: to kill, maim, wound and mutilate large numbers of human beings at close range in a short period of time.

What makes these types of weapons so effective in war also makes them ideal killing tools for mass murderers. As a society, we are making the job of these criminals easier by selling military-style assault-type rifles to the general public. It is madness to do so, yet the NRA and the gun industry have such enormous influence on many local, state and national political leaders that we endure mass shooting after mass shooting and do nothing. We should be deeply ashamed.

The NRA can summon up spokesmen who passionately argue this is all about freedom and constitutional rights, but they don’t talk about the dirty secret. The dirty secret is that this is really about money, billions and billions of dollars for the gun industry to sell whatever they want to and generous contributions back to the NRA which shields them. That much of this money has blood on it doesn’t faze these folks in the least. As long as the money spends, the casualties are acceptable as collateral damage.

John Engelsman

retired lawyer

Baton Rouge