Just a few thoughts on your well-written article.
Back in my youth (when Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy were Presidents), firearms ownership was more common, hunting was more common and guns were available by mail order from the back of popular magazines. You could buy military surplus Garands and carbines at Woolworth’s five-and-dime.
Training was handled by parents and organizations like the Boy Scouts. By the time I was twelve, a number of friends already had .22-caliber rifles. It was almost a rite of passage.
Those days are long gone and nothing has taken their place — and we’re the poorer for that.
The strange thing is that, even as much as we lived with guns, we didn’t live in a “gun culture.” We didn’t glorify or demonize the guns; it was the people who used them: the soldiers, the police, the hunters and the criminals who gained our respect or condemnation.
Today, it’s all about the guns. The kind of hysteria that makes a school discipline a small child for biting a gun shape out of a Pop-Tart or folding their fingers into the shape of a gun and saying “Bang” has become almost a psychosis of its own.
The backlash is just as bad. I owned a Colt AR-15 back in the 1970s. I never regarded it as a political statement or as a rallying point; I bought it to shoot. But what was once a fairly obscure rifle that didn’t sell all that well is now the most popular style of rifle in the U.S., thanks in part to the ban fans.
But why restrict the AR? It’s a versatile, low-recoiling, easy-to-maintain rifle. It is adapted to many calibers, from .22 long rifle to .338 Lapua Magnum. Often, the same receiver and magazines can be used with different barrels to provide a multi-game rifle for much less than the cost of two separate rifles. It can be fitted with a stock with an adjustable pull, so shooters of different sizes can use it comfortably. The pistol grip is more ergonomic and allows for a more natural grip angle. Yes, it was originally developed for the military, but the same thing is true of every rifle, musket or arquebus. The fire lance, the progenitor of all modern firearms, was developed for the Chinese army in the 10th Century.
You have fallen into the demon trap set by gun control advocates.
You claim that humans were not meant to kill each other. Then why are we the most competitive, most predatory species on the planet? Thankfully, we have learned to control our most violent impulses (for the most part) but you were in the military: all that training was intended to allow you to kill other human beings. You were meant to kill other human beings and the army wanted you to be proficient because the other side was just as eager to kill you.
By your own words, that platoon sergeant wanted the M4 carbine for his troops because it was better for killing people. The M16s were suitable for personnel with other duties including directing and helping soldiers to kill other people.
A firearm is a mechanism designed to propel a projectile in a controlled fashion. End of discussion. It is an inanimate object that has no feelings and makes no judgements on where that projectile ends up. Whether it punches a hole in a piece of paper or a tin can, takes out a coyote or deer, or wounds or kills another human being is all up to the person operating the firearm.
The firearm is the latest iteration in millennia of personal weapons development. That it is superior to other weapons in most cases makes it preferable.
Demanding training is a commendable idea. A while back, I sent a suggestion to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. I suggested a new regulation requiring licensed firearms dealers to maintain easily accessible sources of local firearms training and to encourage training with every transaction. The BATF responded that it did not have the authority to make such a rule.
It is estimated that there are 80 million to more than 100 million gun owners in the U.S. Even discounting active and former military personnel and law enforcement, the majority of those owners would have to be trained. How? There are more gun owners in America than there are students in K-12 public schools and we have more than 98,000 public schools. There is no public or private infrastructure to handle that kind of volume. Even the army couldn’t handle that type of volume.
Red-flag laws (removal of firearms from persons who may be contemplating self-harm) are well-intentioned. But claims by friends and family don’t stand the test. Depriving a citizen their civil rights requires due process of law and a finding of mental incapacity or that the person presents a danger to themselves or others requires a finding by a court or board of competent authority and the person must be allowed an opportunity for defense. Furthermore, the people everyone is trying to help may avoid seeking assistance because of the red flag laws. The avoidance might not even have anything to do with guns; shame and embarrassment might be more significant factors.
Millions of Americans have mental health issues. Some of these are severe but not so serious that the sufferer needs to be institutionalized. But these people have been part of our society for years and manage to function without going off the rails.
Bullying, rejection, jilted lovers, job loss, poor grades, child custody disputes, messy divorces, money problems are all part of life — for one’s entire life (except maybe for the bad grades). We talk about today’s school kids lacking coping mechanisms but they’re not the only ones that are doing all the shooting, stabbing and beating. The average age of mass shooters is 31.
So we come to the real crux of the problem: It’s not one problem and there is no one solution to it.
Moreover, firearms were used in just 5.8% of all violence-related deaths and injuries requiring medical treatment. Focusing on guns means we ignore the far larger problem of violence.