AK-47s go auto quickly
Your correspondent Brian Wiedman [September 23 letter: "Get gun facts straight"] ably repeats the talking points promulgated by Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. (His letter is almost a verbatim repetition of remarks attributed recently to Lapierre, right down to the red sports car analogy.)
Wiedman, as a gun enthusiast, is well aware that semi-automatic assault weapons are fundamentally different from traditional sporting firearms. Weapons covered by the ban such as the AK-47, AR-15, MAC-10, and the Uzi are fairly easily converted to fully automatic fire. A semi-automatic hunting rifle such as the Remington 742 is much more difficult, if not impossible, to convert to automatic fire.
Furthermore, 30-round magazines are readily available for assault weapons; such magazines do not exist for sporting firearms. Finally, a terrorist wishing to obtain an assault weapon for use in the U.S. could go to any one of thousands of domestic gun shops and purchase his AK-47 simply by showing his or her proof of residency and undergoing an instant background check.
(The terrorist could avoid even the minimal background check by going to a gun show to get his weapon). He or she could then convert it to full automatic mode in few hours with readily available parts and tools. I submit to Weidman that this would be far more easily accomplished and more economical than buying a rifle or RPG in Afghanistan and smuggling it into the U.S. In any event, with the repeal of the ban, our hypothetical terrorist is now free to choose.
By the way, I own a black sports car. They're demonstrably safer.