Everyone seems to have a hot take on mass shootings.
The current one is Parkland. If you’re reading from in the future maybe you won’t remember this one. It was a high school in Florida and 17 are dead, 15 wounded.
Lawmakers offer thoughts and prayers. Republicans blame mental health issues. Democrats blame the easy access to guns.
It’s hard to argue against gun control, although the NRA has somehow done an effective job. There is every evidence that guns do not make anyone safer, and the ones with large magazines are responsible for such high casualty rates in these mass shootings.
This is a hard one for me. One of my core principles is that more individual freedom is better. Whatever that freedom is. Drugs, guns, speech, movement, creation. Obviously, the line has to be drawn at murder. (I originally phrased this as “destruction” but then started down a long tangent on the complicated nature of destruction, and that’s a whole other topic.)
My in-laws own a bunch of guns. My pawpaw owned quite a few. I think there was at least one stashed under every bed, and my mother warned me, “They are always loaded.”
But I’m not a gun guy. I never picked up the fascination. I had a BB gun/air rifle that got a lot of use when I was about eleven. I still feel bad about all the birds I killed that summer. But that was it–never had an urge to hunt after that. Maybe it’s because my father wasn’t into guns either. He has a little pearl handled revolver, but I’m not sure it’s been fired in my lifetime. And a shotgun, I think. Ditto. And even though my pawpaw had several guns, they were tools, just like his tractors. He wasn’t a sportsman, he was a farmer.
So I have a passing curiosity for guns since they are such a big part of our culture, but I don’t enjoy playing with them.
Recently, my brother-in-law let me shoot his AR-15. If I knew anything about guns, I’d probably remember the make and model. It was a nice gun; not just the cheapest one you can pick up at a sporting goods store. It’s a very powerful gun. There’s not a whole hell of a lot of difference between it and a machine gun. As the bump stock proved in the Las Vegas massacre.
Here’s my dirty little secret. I kind of want to have one.
Not because I want to shoot an AR-15 recreationally. I was kind of vibrating for about a half hour after shooting one clip. I don’t think target practice will make me less anxious.
But if the secret police start knocking on doors, or if people begin to be rounded up and put on trains, then I’d like to have a weapon that would be useful to the resistance. A gun that can kill people.
My brother-in-law said something about using the AR for hunting coyotes, and yeah, maybe that’s a thing. He’s in the Navy and would last a hell of a lot longer in the woods alone than I would, so he could probably come up with a half dozen potential uses for an AR. But I don’t think any reasonable person can deny that their optimal use is killing people. Lots of people, as quickly as possible.
For hunting, you really only need one or two shots. Most hunting rifles have smaller magazines, usually not removable. For home defense, nothing beats a shotgun. If you wake up bleary-eyed at two a.m. to a home invader, you don’t want to have to aim. Again, most shotguns have limited magazines. You don’t need thirty rounds to kill, maim, or run off a midnight robber.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that limiting the size of magazines would limit the killing potential of the madmen (and they are almost universally men) who set out to kill people. So the easiest solution is to ban large and removable magazines. Check out Australia if you don’t believe this will work. They had a gun culture, but banned many of them and put heavy restrictions on the owning of those that remained. Since 1996, they have had zero mass shootings.
It just works.
There’s a reason this doesn’t happen in other countries.
I love freedom.
Even messy freedom that isn’t the safest. (Don’t get me started on the TSA. After 9/11, we gave up so many freedoms in order to fight terrorism. Why do I take my shoes off at the airport? Because one idiot failed to do anything. 17 people just died, and the NRA and gun culture is so strong that no meaningful gun control will happen. None.) Okay, the point of that parenthetical was that I don’t think the TSA should have installed the backscatter x-ray machines and the regular metal detectors were enough and I don’t think you should have to give up your AR-15, even if it would make us all safer.
But seriously. We can compromise.
I’ve read some stuff by gun aficionados that has convinced me that an assault rifle ban is kind of stupid. An assault rifle is more of a cosmetic description than an actual gun.
But I’d rather not ban anything. Remember? Freedom!
Still, the founding fathers were lucky to get one round a minute from their flintlocks, so I don’t think they had in mind rifles that could fire 500 rounds a minute any more than I imagine they expected private citizens to keep cannon on hand. We could debate till we’re blue in the face about whether the founding fathers actually intended for there to be an individual “right to bear arms”. (Go read the actual amendment if you never have. That whole “well regulated militia” thing really muddies the waters.) But the Supreme Court has ruled that there is an individual right to bear arms, just as they have ruled that there is a right to abortion. Funny, conservatives and liberals like the rulings that match their own beliefs.
(OTOH, money is not speech, motherfuckers! That’s the hill I’ll die on. Sorry, I digress.)
Here’s my solution: Anyone can buy a single shot rifle or shotgun, which are basically the modern equivalents of what the founding fathers would have had for portable firepower. (About a hundred times more accurate and reliable, but anyway.) No license or background check or waiting period required.
But: if you want to buy anything that can use clips or has a large magazine, or any pistol (because, while I haven’t gone into it here, they are the main weapons of choice for killing humans), if you want to buy any of those more deadly weapons, you have to have a license. Pass a test, take a training course, whatever seems reasonable. It shouldn’t be discriminatory or so [difficult] that an average person couldn’t obtain it.
In addition, there should be a waiting period for any of these guns. In Australia, it’s 28 days, which seems a bit long, but can you wait 3 days? Maybe even 7? Think how much sweeter it will be when you get your cool new toy. And of course, a background check. (Although even that’s complicated–more black people have criminal records, so do background checks for guns end up being racist?)
I’m still torn on the tracking idea. It seems like a good idea for each sale of a large magazine gun to be tracked, to determine if someone is amassing a large stockpile of weapons. On the other hand, there’s nothing inherently wrong with stockpiling guns, as long as there is no intent to massacre people with them.
Okay. That’s my fairly simple idea. But one that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
And I didn’t even get into conceal carry or open carry. Or the deflections about mental illness. Or the claims by some (mostly Christian conservatives) that the reason for so many mass shootings is the moral decay of the country and perhaps that kids these days don’t get enough whoopin’s.
Maybe another time.
TL;DR summary: Something should be done. How about you can buy single shot guns with no requirements, but all other guns require a license and waiting period and probably a background check?
Take care of one another.