February 25, 2018

We Should Ban AR15’s—But It Won’t Stop School Massacres.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsDon’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 We think the law(s) that allow these semi-automatic weapons to be sold like bananas in a supermarket should be rescinded.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.

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4 responses to “We Should Ban AR15’s—But It Won’t Stop School Massacres.”

  1. Perry Green says:

    First the deputy was a coward who did not function as a sworn
    police officer should have.
    More importantly we have become a nation more bereft of
    family and religious values than ever before. The children who
    commit these crimes are hardly to blame but society in general
    as we have become increasingly course in our vision of death and
    our unwillingness to discipline our own children and failures to
    instruct and guide our children at a young development age. It’s not our unwillingness it is government mandates as to how we discipline as well. It certainly does not help with volumes of movies glorifying revolutions,or causes and in many cases makes the perpetrator a “Hero”.
    Respect for property,lives,elderly,civility is not honored but
    being in the “NEWS” for a day is. To listen to the news analysts expound continuously from both sides of the spectrum the news instead of factual reporting is also a contributing factor. The future of both shootings,stabbings, and assaults will go on until there is swift and immediate punishment for the perpetrators and even to the would be one’s.

  2. Susan duman says:

    I couldn’t say it better than what Perry just wrote.

    The great service thT your blog provides is to, at least, get citizens to think beyond the obvious.
    Thanks!

  3. steve hardy says:

    There seems to be a lot of confusion in the media concerning guns. Assault rifles are automatic rifles (one trigger pull, shoots multiple bullets) also called machine guns are used by the military and police and are outlawed for everyone else. The term “assault weapon” has no strict definition and was either created by the media to demonize semi-automatic rifles (a trigger pull is required for each bullet fired) or the gun companies to make semi-automatic rifles sexier for gun buyers. Take any semi-automatic hunting rifle replace the wooden stock with a plastic one, make a few other cosmetic changes and now you have an “assault weapon.” There is no performance difference between the average hunting rifle and a so-called assault weapon. Both can kill the same number of people in the same amount of time. So when one talks about banning assault weapons we are also talking about banning most hunting rifles used today. That is not going to happen.

  4. Larry Fox says:

    A drunk walrus could figure out 1) that the second amendment confers on individuals the right to bear arms (just read Madison!), and 2) we all accept that there are limits what guns can be sold and to whom (no howitzers in private hands since they could hit the White House with a 5+ ton explosive shell from three states plus D.C. and can’t be defended against.)

    So the question becomes “what limits?” The states have the right to enact reasonable limits. So say the Supremes. As the states actions vis-a-vis abortion have shown, meaningful limitations that vary from state to state ought be possible within the framework of “the law of the land.” But the gun haters have to take the notion of reasonable seriously.

    Could the states establish a periodic qualification to buy and/or own a gun? One would think that most folks would agree that people with known mental illnesses wouldn’t qualify. Already, felons and those on parole don’t qualify. Perhaps there are other groups. The Marines will not take people with GED’s because the Marine Corps leadership feels such people lack impulse control. Could the states require that no one take weapons outside the house (except for training sessions) unless/until they have completed the NRA or a similar gun safety course?

    People who fear government overreach certainly have a point. Most everything our federal government does is badly done. The do-not-fly list, as an example with clear parallels to a “do not own” list, is a scandal.

    Somehow rational gun owners – almost surely a majority of all gun owners – and those who support them have to be convinced that regulations will be properly developed and carefully implemented. Some will never accept this, and, unless and until it is shown that it can be done right, they are correct. The “slippery slope” argument will rear its ugly head. But we don’t need everyone on board, as long as most people on both sides of this argument are willing to be rational. Or at least more sober than a drunk walrus!

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