skeleton holding an AK-47

The Time to Ban Assault Weapons is Overdue

I am anti gun.

I don’t have a gun, I don’t use guns, and I don’t abide guns in my presence. That wasn’t always the case.

When I was a kid, my dad taught me to shoot with his .22 rifle. In the 1950s, my grandfather won multiple trap-shooting trophies, not to mention lots of money for the same. I served in the military and I learned to use an M-16. In fact, I was tops in marksmanship and a wiz at disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling my weapon. It’s safe to say I am familiar with handling guns.

I don’t regret those experiences, but they will stay in the past.

As long as there is a Second Amendment, I’ll support the right of other Americans to exercise their ownership and use of guns, as long as it’s within the law. And despite my personal choice of being anti gun, I’m not advocating for a repeal of the amendment. However, the law needs to change.

If you ask a Republican in Congress today, the majority will say that we need better background checks and mental health restrictions. They won’t say that we should ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines — in other words, the types of weapons that are used in most mass shootings.

And yeah, I can’t believe I just wrote “most mass shootings.” Because there are enough of them to warrant a “most” category. Insane.

Why is that? Why are those folks in Congress afraid to ban the worst kinds of weapons? It can’t be that they don’t care about children, because they have plenty to say about protecting our children when it comes to sexual orientation, sports, and bathroom use. But it seems they would rather have children running active shooter drills than simply ban the weapons that are used in those kinds of mass casualty events. The party line seems to be, “Ban the books, keep the guns.”

Let’s be honest; both stances are about the money. The campaign dollars speak volumes. In fact, here’s a list of U.S. Lawmakers Who Receive the Most Funding from the NRA. It’s probably not that surprising, but there you have it. And I don’t typically rely on People Magazine for my news, but they did make a pretty handy list.

There’s a tired argument that if we ban assault weapons, only bad people will have them. I don’t buy it.

The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. At the time, it was plausible that an armed militia could overthrow the government. With today’s military, it’s going to take a lot more than a bunch of weekend warriors with automatic weapons, beer, and a collective self-esteem problem to make that happen. To make my case, I encourage you to watch the video of the 2021 Capitol breach. It’s clearly a disturbing event. But what did they ultimately do? Did they affect a coup and take over the government like the 1917 Russian Revolution? Nope. I don’t believe they even know how to spell “Bolshevik” or “revolution.” But that’s not what they were after. If you watch what they did, it was mostly about stealing souvenirs and posing in front of fancy furniture. It’s disgusting that Capitol officers had to be injured and killed by a bunch of pumped-up Trump supporters on a romp with the fellas. But there you have it. Is the current cry to uphold the sanctity of the Second Amendment about liberty, or is it crocodile tears about getting their toys taken away?

Let’s further analyze the use case for automatic weapons.

You don’t need an AK-47 to hunt elk or moose. In fact, it’s not very sportsmanlike.

You don’t need a Kalashnikov to defend your home from burglars. And frankly, if you think you do, you’re probably running a religious cult, trafficking humans, or selling illegal drugs.

You don’t need an automatic weapon for target shooting. See elk or moose above.

Here’s the only real use case for using an automatic weapon: killing a large group of humans very quickly. As in war. Or school shootings. Or bowling alleys.

One could argue that the people who commit those acts are mentally unstable, and that’s why they misused such a beautiful piece of machinery that others would only use responsibly. Hence the argument for restricting the mentally unstable from owning guns. I’m not opposed to that idea on the surface, but let’s dig a little deeper.

What about the people who are mentally unstable walking around without a diagnosis? I see plenty of them on the freeway; drivers so filled with rage they risk multiple lives for the sake of impatience and intolerance. To be fair, I can’t say whether those people have been diagnosed with mental instability or not. But it raises the question of catching everyone who might qualify.

Which leads me to the argument for banning automatic weapons. If those with potentially lethal mental issues can’t get their hands on a weapon in the first place, doesn’t that mitigate the potential for tragedy? Only one course of action removes the lethal item from the system, so no matter if someone is diagnosed, undiagnosed, or semi-recovered, no one gets a high-capacity magazine or rifle.

It’s clear that keeping guns locked up and away from children substantially reduces the risk of injury.

“Each step closer to the gun being ready to fire introduces opportunities for unintentional injury.”

Aliza Rosen, Johns Hopkins University

If that’s the case, and responsible gun owners already practice good safety in their home for that very reason, then banning assault rifles makes perfect sense.

The polls show that the majority of Americans want some form of gun control. Even Republicans in Congress are calling for measures to be taken. Which is good, but I don’t believe they go far enough or truly have our interests in mind.

A total assault weapons ban is the only answer.


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