Don’t get us wrong, we believe the right to sell these killing machines to civilians, including kids 18 years old, is bizarre. We think the law(s) that allow these semi-automatic weapons to be sold like bananas in a supermarket should be rescinded. But we also know it’s not going to happen–not until we carefully rethink why we originally wrote the second amendment, and the amendment’s extraordinarily limited relevance today. That’s what we have to do or not much is going to change. The problem is baked into our American psyche.
The AR 15 really isn’t the culprit and neither is the AK 47. There are estimated to be around ten million AR 15’s in civilian hands in the United States, and there are scores of other rapid-fire guns that can violently tear through flesh and destroy the men, women and children at whom they are aimed. So-called assault rifles are the killing machines de jure, but no one should fool themselves into thinking banning them will deter crazy people from doing crazy and deadly things. Assault rifles weren’t used in Columbine. A 9mm hand gun and a shot gun were used there. And they were used because the even-more-deadly bombs the perpetrators brought to school didn’t go off as planned.
Focusing our ire on one or two models of weapons is a chimera, a phantasm that will solve nothing. While a recent Pew Poll found that 68 percent of Americans, including 48 percent of gun owners, favor banning assault rifles, there are still scores of rapid-fire rifles and handguns with magazines that hold up to 33 rounds that can be fired off as fast as a shooter can pull a trigger. The AR 15 is the shiny object on which everyone is, understandably, focusing today. Unfortunately, a deranged teenager or adult can find almost countless substitute rapid-fire killing machines to replace the AR 15 were it to be banned.
Sadly, we have a self-imposed quirk in our American DNA and barring a rewrite of the Second Amendment, there’s not much we can do about it. There are as many guns in America as there are people, and about one in every three households in America owns a gun. Our gun culture is hard-wired into our Constitution and there, and only there, are possible solutions to be found. Rewrite it or get used to living with very dangerous weapons in the hands of civilians. To literally tens of millions of Americans, guns are sacred rights given to us 240 years ago by the Founders to entice the citizens of the original States to join the new American experiment. A deal’s a deal, they believe, and tens of millions of Americans will insist on holding the country’s collective feet to the fire until the deal is altered.
More than 1.3 million so-called assault rifles are sold every year in the United States, and countless rapid-fire hand guns also enjoy robust sales in our country. A Glock 19 hand gun holds fifteen 9mm rounds and there are 17 and 33 round Glock magazines as well. There are numerous other hand gun manufacturers who hawk hand guns with similar capability. Does anyone really believe focusing our ire on the AR 15 is going to solve or even reduce the occurrence of school massacres in this country as long as so many other weapons are available that can do pretty much the same thing?
Here are some facts to ponder. According to the FBI, there have been fifty mass murders or attempted mass murders at schools since Columbine. One hundred and forty-one youngsters and staff have been killed in those massacres. Nearly three-quarters of the shooters had no prior run-ins with law enforcement. Seventeen of the shooters were fifteen years of age or younger. 68% of the shooters simply brought their guns to school from their homes or from relative’s homes. The penalties for such lax control of weapons by homeowners should be severe.
In just this still-young Twenty-First century there have been 687 casualties in school shootings which have left 263 children and staff dead. This is America, and it can’t be how we Make America Great Again.
A final thought. We note as we go to press that the Broward County Sheriff, has announced that his deputies will now carry rifles, including the AR-15’s when on duty guarding public schools. This may be the most sensible lesson for the nation’s other 13, 500 school districts. It is certainly a far more sensible response than arming the teachers. It would be rather hard for teachers to “conceal and carry” a similar weapon. The standard Glock 9mm handguns that most police officers and we would assume teachers (would) carry have an effective range (capable of hitting a bullseye) of 165 feet for a non-sharpshooter. The AR-15’s that they would most commonly be up against have an effective range of over 1300 feet. Small wonder the deputy who was on guard at the Parkland, Florida school was hesitant to go into the school to confront the shooter.