Once again the nation has experienced an horrific act of gun violence. Fifty-nine lives were lost and a mind-numbing 525 people were injured.
Before this disaster happened, the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting had earned the dubious distinction of being the worst mass shooting event in U.S. history. Like the Orlando shooting tragedy, the Las Vegas massacre has triggered yet another round of national gun control debates.
This on-again, off-again “debate” is in reality anything but, since the outcome of the conversation is never determined by the logic and reason of words, but by the emotional appeal of 2nd Amendment rights fueled by the cold hard cash of the NRA.
That’s not to say that everyone on the side of “more guns, less regulation” is an NRA minion. Some folk actually believe that the best way to control gun violence is to have other armed citizens somewhere nearby who could jump in and neutralize a crazed gunman.
President Trump is one of those people:
“If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle, and this son of a b—- comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have (a gun) and goes ‘boom, boom.’ You know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks.”
The problem, though, is that such a scenario very rarely happens. In fact, a recent survey of mass shootings conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety found “not a single mass shooting . . . in which the shooter was stopped by an armed civilian—even in cases where there were armed civilians present.”
When bullets start flying and people start dying not many casual weapon carriers are likely to go into hero mode. And it goes without saying that anyone firing a gun in such a setting would likely be shot by police when they arrived.
The problem with our gun laws is that the ONLY purpose an assault rifle has– whether semi-automatic or fully-automatic– is to kill as many people as possible, as fast as possible.
I read a Facebook comment by a man who said he has several assault weapons at home and has never killed anyone. For him this was proof of the fact that the problem is always the shooter and not the weapon. He called it “a mental health issue.” But maybe last week the Las Vegas shooter could have said the same thing. The question I posed to the Facebook commenter was: “how do we know that you won’t be on the 32nd floor of some hotel tomorrow morning mowing down innocent people?”
The fact of the matter is: we don’t. To be sure, there is no way to stop a would-be killer from using a different type of gun to kill. Statistically speaking, assault weapons are used in less than two percent of mass shootings. Most mass killings (4 or more people) are domestic in nature. But 59 dead and 525 wounded as part of one incident is the biggest reason yet for all of us to just say “no.”
Whether or not the framers of our republic intended the right to bear arms to be restricted to establishing a militia or more broadly interpreted to mean that every citizen has a right to own his/her own weapon is today largely irrelevant. Americans love their guns. Between 2010 and 2015, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that the number of concealed weapon permit holders nearly doubled from 739,222 to 1.4 million. This number far outpaces population growth. Any discussion that is perceived to be a first step toward taking guns away from Americans is met with instant hostility.
Knowing this, the NRA has used its vast resources to make the 2nd Amendment the background of every gun control discussion. People who support gun control are routinely labelled “anti-gun.”
The NRA strategy is to stir up the fear that everyone who advocates gun control wants to see the 2nd Amendment informally abolished. And as long as Americans see gun control as code for giving up the right to bear arms, meaningful change won’t happen no matter how many lives are lost.
Efforts to pass gun control legislation after the Pulse mass shooting ultimately failed. As will this. Now that the NRA has said it agrees, lawmakers will be able to pass legislation outlawing bump stock accessories that convert semi-automatic rifles to fully automatic weapons. The rest of us will consider it a victory and put up all the protest signs.
AK-47s, AR-15 rifles, the UZI submachine gun, and the MAC-10 machine pistol are all semi-automatic weapons. Outlawing bump stocks doesn’t even begin to address the more fundamental issue of the prevalence of assault weapons in civilian hands.
Gun laws won’t change until the American rank-and-file put their collective foot down and tell every politician in office to either pass a gun control law or start looking for another job. But don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.
The trend here in Florida and in a number of other states around the nation, has been to increase, rather than decrease, access to guns.
We are a little more than 4 percent of the world’s population, but we own almost 50% of all the world’s guns.
Too bad that as a nation, we seem to have only about 4% of its common sense.