Ban Assault Weapons - And Response (3)

  • Tuesday, March 28, 2023

It is unjustified conceit for me to think I can write anything here that will make a difference. So I’ll confess to some conceit. Sometimes whether you see any hope of making a difference or not you feel compelled to try.

Although born and raised in Chattanooga, I worked and lived in Nashville for over 30 years. The Covenant School shooting must feel like an open wound to many there, a shocking hole in the fabric of one of the city’s most safe enclaves, a private church elementary school. My children were once in high school a few blocks away.

But this story is all too familiar. I read an article that referred to it as “increasingly common.” There are those overseas who see it as just another example of American excess. Are you, am I, going to go along with this thinking and do nothing? Or are we going to take it as an opportunity to do something that could, that should help?

It’s easy to be outraged. It takes far more effort and time to commit to changing a situation. Contact your legislative representatives, contact the party of your choice and work for change. My personal choice is to re-enact the Ronald Reagan-initiated ban on assault weapons. The majority of Americans agree with this, but the majority of them are inactive on the issue. They are not speaking out enough.

Assault weapons are not sporting guns. They shoot through concrete walls and leave giant cavities in people. They should be considered in the same class as grenade launchers, flame throwers, C4 explosives, machine guns and the like. They are not needed by civilians nor specified in the Constitution any more than those weapons of war are. I will work for federal legislation to stop their general availability. I hope you’ll join me.

Doug Eckert

* * *

According to the report "Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy," published by the Congressional Research Service in 2019, in the period between 2009 and 2018, handguns, at 58 percent, were the most common type of firearm used in public mass shootings; rifles came in second, being used in 37 percent of mass shootings; shotguns were used in only 5 percent of mass shootings. Semiautomatic rifles were used in 20 percent of mass shootings in that period. The report does not break down the semiautomatic rifles used into categories that could be used to determine what percentage of those were on the Armalite-15 (AR-15) platform.

It should be noted that, in public mass shootings that occurred between 2009-2013, semiautomatic riles were used in only 14 percent of shootings, but were used in 28 percent of shootings that occurred between 2014-2018. So, something is (or at least was) driving that number up.

It should also be noted that, in the same report, commonalities among shooters included mental health issues, exposure to domestic violence (victims and perpetrators), and copycat behavior.

According to The Outdoor Foundation’s 2017 Outdoor Participation Report, more Americans participated in target shooting than participated in baseball, football, or soccer. Many of these target shooters participate in organizations that require the rifle used to be on an Armalite-style (AR-style) platform, and many more require the rifle used to be semiautomatic.

These are the most recent reports from reliable sources that I could find.

Calls to ban such rifles from the Left sound as silly as the calls to arm teachers from the Right. And, given the numbers, you’d likely have more success banning baseball bats, as less people play baseball than target shoot, and baseball bats probably aren’t covered under the Second Amendment.

Instead of emotional reactions and calls for bans or arming teachers, we should take an unbiased look at the facts and create statistical models to determine the best solutions. Ignore divisive politicians pushing agendas and their media accomplices – regardless of their political persuasion.

Kevin Hargis

* * *

How much experience does Mr. Eckert actually have with shooting sports?

Disassemble an AR-15 semi-automatic modern rifle and you’ll find a barrel, lower, trigger and frame, all of which is “horrifyingly” similar to every other semi-automatic rifle, modern or otherwise. What makes an assault rifle different? The add-ons (or furniture) which make it look military, but the rifle remains the same.

As far as the ammunition goes, “…shooting thru walls and leave giant cavities in people” is a REM-sleep exaggeration. The ammunition is .223 caliber (for the uninitiated, that’s .22 caliber…yes, .22 caliber). The projectile travels very fast (which is what makes it an effective round) but there are many rifles chambered with much harsher calibers and destructive capabilities but because they don’t have the “look” of a military M-16, they are less dangerous?

For years, liberals have attempted to define an assault weapon and have consistently failed. Anyone remember when legislation was introduced which limited the number of “offensive looking” characteristics a rifle must possess, like a box magazine, pistol grips, etc., and if it had more than one offensive feature it was to be considered an “assault” weapon. Strange how the legislation never passed muster. Liberal’s logic and knowledge fell far short of a “swish,” much less a 3-pointer.

AR-15s and AK-47s are the most widely possessed modern rifle in the United States. Not because they are favored by terrorists or gang-bangers. Rifles maintain a very low percentage of usage in crimes of any kind. Perhaps the real explanation for these mass shootings is mental health, poor sentencing and parole decisions and a disappointing public education system. And how does America instill social mores in our youth when a vast percentage of families are single-parent? How do you mold a person into a whole individual when half the mold is missing?

It’s human nature to find a single culprit to explain everything. Many scientists have searched for years for the T.O.E. (the unified Theory of Everything: a hypothetical, singular, all-encompassing theory that fully explains our universe) and haven’t come close. Blaming modern rifles for the dissolution of social values is a fool’s errand. If you didn’t learn anything from 1994’s unsuccessful experiment in banning the sale of “assault weapons,” perhaps looking a little deeper than a “knee-jerk” reaction blaming guns is warranted.

Dave Fihn

* * * 

I wish Kevin Hargis' solution to firearms was that simple.  Certainly noble and easily feasible.  But not realistic.

We already know the results of statistical models, whether based on racists, discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgender persons, mental illness, or any other of multiple reasons.  But nothing can change without changes to laws.

The Second Amendment is sacred to the ilk of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Bobert, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gomert, and many, if not all Republicans. Those elected officials will whine about enacting laws saying there constituents don't want more laws.  

Mr. Hargis cited statistics about gun owners.  Until those gun owners, 66 percent Republican, from the Statista website, convince their representatives and senators that they want effective gun laws to stop shootings, there won't be any change.  I suspect that with this political SCOTUS, those laws will be adjudged unconstitutional.

And apparently Mr. Dave Fihn thinks the status quo is okay.  He must believe that because he implies a weapon shooting .22 caliber projectiles must offer little exposure to significant injury.  But does a .22 rifle have a magazine chamber enabling 45 - 60 shots within a minute?  And how quickly can an empty magazine be replaced? 

Tell me, Mr. Fihn, what's the damage to a human body when hit by three .22 bullets in five seconds? Or six in 10 seconds? Or multiple hits in non-sequential order, within 60 seconds, because the shooter was firing at will toward any target? 

Why did the parents in Uvalde have to provide DNA samples to identify their children?

It's ludicrous to blame liberals only.  Mr. Fihn cites a Clinton era ban, a bi-partisan agreement, as a failure, but does not explain why.  And why did W and Trump not act when Republicans had control of both the Senate and House?  Because they were in the pockets of the gun lobby?  Couldn't they have addressed, as you said, "the real explanation for these mass shootings (which) is mental health, poor sentencing and parole decisions and a disappointing public education system."  

And, as Mr. Fihn said, "How does America instill social mores in our youth when a vast percentage of families are single-parent?"  Most sources cite the percentage of single parent households as around 30 percent, not exactly "a vast percentage". Why do you blame single parents as incapable of "instilling social mores in our youth"?  

As I said above, until those gun owners, 66 percent Republican, convince their representatives and senators that they want effective gun laws to stop shootings, there won't be any change.  

Joe Warren

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