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Average Americans don't need assault weapons

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
July 30, 2012 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
 A man fires an AK-47 at a gun range in West Point, Kentucky. Roland Martin says private citizens don't need such weapons.
A man fires an AK-47 at a gun range in West Point, Kentucky. Roland Martin says private citizens don't need such weapons.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: Gun lovers should be free to own shotguns, pistols and the like but not AK-47s
  • Martin supports right to own gun but says Constitution doesn't say any gun you'd like
  • He says National Rifle Association is wrong to oppose reasonable restrictions
  • He says president is right about AK-47s -- they belong on battlefield, not city streets

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- To all of you gun lovers, feel free to go buy your Glock, shotgun, hunting rifle, .22 pistol, .357 Magnum or any of the other guns at your disposal.

But you do not need an AK-47.

For some, it's too soon to discuss gun reform, a little more than one week after the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado. I disagree. Too many Americans are being killed by guns every day; this most recent heinous tragedy should not keep us from having a rational debate.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

Let me be crystal clear: I do not own a gun, have no desire to get one and don't begrudge anyone for having one. Keeping a gun for safety? No problem. You're a hunter? Knock yourself out. I've fired a submachine gun once -- at the FBI Citizens Academy in Chicago -- and it did nothing for me, so please, carry on.

I absolutely and positively support the Second Amendment. Americans have the right to bear arms, but nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say that you must be able to bear any arms your heart desires.

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There is no reason the ban on assault weapons is no longer the law of the land. If you need an AK-47 to hunt, maybe you need shooting lessons.

President Barack Obama was right when he told the National Urban League last week that "AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers ... not on the streets of our cities."

The inability of the National Rifle Association to understand that is shameful and destructive. The group assumes that any reasonable restriction on guns is un-American and unnecessary. Well, it's wrong. Dead wrong.

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And the NRA is just as wrong when it opposes efforts to restrict drum magazines that can hold 100 rounds, such as the one the gunman in Colorado used to mow down moviegoers.

Seriously, please offer me a reasonable and rational explanation as to why someone who isn't a law enforcement officer needs to fire off that many bullets?

This is where common sense makes a ton of sense. Yes, people are the ones pulling the trigger, but our gun culture borders on the truly obsessive. Gun deaths here have reached epidemic levels, and too many of us have an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude.

Enough with timid politicians afraid to offend the gun lobby. Enough with voters making the stupid and nonsensical argument that the government wants all of our guns.

As a nation that trumpets being the best in the world, let's stop outdistancing gun deaths in Japan, China and England. If we want to lead, let's lead in changing directions when it comes to our gun culture.

America's gun obsession is unhealthy, unwise and deadly. Delaying the conversation does nothing for all of us.

It's time to stand up and lead, America.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

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