Archive for June, 2016

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Assault

June 20, 2016

AK-47-Hydra

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

This is the common refrain of many “gun rights” proponents. It’s catchy, but it’s incomplete. What it should say is “People who have guns kill people.”

The following corollaries apply:

People who have assault weapons kill many people.

People who have assault weapons with high-capacity magazines kill many people in a short period of time.

Yes, I know, people who have knives also kill people. Same goes for blunt objects, automobiles, boomerangs, and bolos.

And yes, most people who have guns don’t kill anybody.

However, any rational member of society should be able to accept that limitations must be put on anything that is dangerous. This is why we have licensing laws for motor vehicles. This is why we have speed limits. This is why vaqueros and aborigines are not allowed to hunt in public parks.

And guns are dangerous. Assault rifles are extremely dangerous, dangerous beyond the justification for their public availability. Regulating them is not an infringement on rights. It is common sense.

There are already governmental limits applied to guns on the books. One of these applies to duck hunting. In order to protect the wildfowl population, weapons used to hunt them are limited to carrying only three shells. This is to protect the duck population. But somehow assault rifles with thirty round magazines being used against the human population cannot be controlled?

Assault weapons were designed and built for one purpose: assault. They are not hunting rifles. They are not target rifles. They are not self-defense rifles.

They are assault rifles. Weapons of war.

These weapons simply have no place outside of the military, just like RPGs, mortars, and hand grenades. Their sale should be unequivocally banned.

Mikhail Kalashnikov developed the infamous AK47, the progenitor of this type of rifle, “to create a weapon that would drive the Germans from Russia.” Not to bag a deer. Not to hit a bullseye. Not to protect a home (from what, I would ask, a horde of marauding Huns?). The manufacturers of the more recent permutations of this gun (such as the popular AR 15, a “civilian” version of a military weapon, the M 16) have made claims for it to be other things, but that is merely trying to put a wolf in sheep’s clothing. To argue otherwise is insulting.

A ban on assault rifles is akin to a speed limit on a highway. It does not infringe upon your right to drive. It is meant to control dangerous driving. Rational people accept this concept.

The counter arguments by gun-rights zealots are that banning guns won’t prevent gun violence from happening (though this flies in the face of the evidence from other countries). That even if a weapon is banned, bad guys can still get their hands on them. That if one weapon is banned, then another will be, and another, and another until all I’ll have left is my Bowie knife.

First point. Do speed limits always stop people from driving dangerously? Not always. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them. Will a ban on assault rifles totally prevent the types of mass shootings we have seen far too much of in the past few years? Perhaps not completely, but it will sure as hell make them far more difficult to  accomplish. Any obstacle we can put between people and assault weapons and thus mass shootings would be beneficial.

Second point. Bad guys sometimes do manage to get their hands on weapons they shouldn’t have. But if these particular weapons are unavailable for purchase — by anyone, anywhere — it is highly unlikely that the kind of people who have used them to cause deadly mayhem (Aurora, Newtown, San Bernadino, Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Sutherland Springs) would have been able to obtain them.

Third point. The fall-back position of unlimited access to guns of any type is always the second amendment. I wish I could feel confident those who use this argument have actually read it and understand it.

This is what it says: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

There are two parts to this statement, and too little consideration is given to the first (and most critical) part, the very reason for the amendment. In 1776 a militia (and not just any militia, mind you, but a “well-regulated” one) was necessary to ensure the security of our new “free state.”  It is now 2017. How does anyone in their right mind accept the notion that this still applies the same way in an era with a professional military? Those paranoid enough to worry that an armed citizenry is a necessary balance to ensure that our military will not turn against the people of America are sadly delusional. Those unrealistic enough to think that an armed citizenry would be an effective protector of our country against outside forces have watched Red Dawn a few too many times after a few too many beers.

The second part states that the right “to keep and bear arms” shall not be infringed. It does not say the right to bear any and every type of arms. Even the “strict constitutionalists” by their own standards can not insert those critical words into the argument.

The failed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 proposed to ban weapons with the ability to fire many bullets rapidly without the necessity of reloading. This by and large is considered to be reasonable by most law enforcement officials. It is also acceptable to a vast majority of Americans, including gun owners.

If such a ban were to go into effect, those who wish to can still buy guns. The list of guns still available to them would be too long to include here. Guns for hunting. Guns for target shooting. Guns for self-defense.

And yes, some of these will still be used in the commission of crimes. There is probably no way to stop that in a free society. But the kinds of mass shootings that have occurred using assault rifles will most certainly be curtailed. And that is a necessary step forward in a sane society.

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