Let’s examine your talking points:
“I agree that enforcing laws already on the books is a good start, but you seem to suggest that given the proliferation of guns, we are past the point of where we could do anything at all. Merely accepting mass homicide as a reality of our society doesn’t work for me. I am a mom of three school-aged children who are now being taught “active shooter drills.” We can do better. We must do better. I do not wish for my children to grow up in a police state where armed guards are at every entry. That is not the world I want for them.”
Where have you been? When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched their attack at Columbine High School, Neil Gardner of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was assigned to Columbine as a school resource officer. As a sworn law enforcement officer, Deputy Gardner was armed. So even back in 1999, there were as many armed guards at Columbine as are at high schools today.
Please point out where I ever said we couldn’t do anything at all? I have often said that guns are neither the problem nor the solution and I not only stand by that contention, I have a fair amount of evidence to back it up.
If you had read the initial report of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Commission, you would have found numerous recommendations that could have prevented or at least ameliorated the incident. In fact, one of the most significant criticisms made by the commission was that none of the measures, even those that cost little or nothing, had been implemented by the Broward County School District by the end of 2018, ten months after the shooting. It is widely expected that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel will be removed from office by Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, in part because the failures of his department and certain of his deputies in the MSD incident.
The commission, led by veteran law enforcement officers, did not recommend raising the age to buy firearms; extending the waiting period to take delivery of a firearm or any of the other measures enacted in the hysteria that followed Nikolas Cruz’s crimes.
Don’t forget all of this silliness came about because one out of 12.7 million Americans aged 18, 19 and 20 purchased a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 rifle and passed a background check a year before he started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Once you get past political appointees, such as most police chiefs, and politicians, including every county sheriff, cops don’t generally favor gun control. These people, who include beat or patrol officers, field supervisors and mid-level commanders, have a fair amount of real-world experience and their opinions should carry more weight than some soi-disant experts.
In a 2013 study of 15,000 verified law enforcement officers, only 4.4% of those responding said that the increase in the incidence of mass shootings was the result of too many guns or guns being too easy to get. Nearly 92% of officers said an assault weapons ban would either have no effect on violent crime or would actually make the problem worse. When it comes to bans on high-capacity magazines, that percentage rises to nearly 96%.
“I understand that the AR-15 and other assault-style weapons are extremely popular. I’m told they are fun to shoot. But that reason is simply not good enough for their continued proliferation.”
Why? If a particular gun is popular, that is a more than sufficient reason for their continued proliferation. Why would it be different for the AR-15 than it is for the iPhone or Ford F-Series pickup? That you think it isn’t doesn’t constitute a valid reason to restrict them.
The AR-15 has been on the market since 1964. In the first 50 years, there were a total of 93 mass killings involving firearms. An AR-15 was used in eleven incidents, seven of which occurred in the last ten years of that period. In the past four years, there have been 42 mass shooting incidents. Twelve of those involved an AR-15, though the rifle wasn’t used in one of the incidents.
It is conservatively estimated that Americans own about five million AR-15s and copies of the AR-15. Other estimates place that number as high as ten million. No one denies that the Armalite-patterned rifle is the best-selling type of rifle in the U.S.
If we add up all the AR-15s used in mass shootings, we get about 32 because some incidents involved more than one shooter and more than one rifle.
This means that if we add up all of the mass shootings in which an AR-15 was used and pretended they happened within a single year, that 0.00064% of the minimum estimated number of AR-15s were used in a mass shooting.
Based on data supplied by municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies, the FBI reported there were 403 homicides committed with a rifle in 2017. If every one of those rifles had been an AR-15, the percentage of use would still have been less than 0.0081%. In the same report, the FBI said 737 people were victims of killers who used nothing other than hands and feet.
Contrary to your assertion, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to restrict the AR-15. It clearly does not present a major threat to public safety, despite all the hype and hysteria.
Moreover, the AR-15 is demonized because of features that have absolutely nothing to do with its basic function. The AR-15 is a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle. There are numerous other gas-operated, semi-automatic rifles on the market, most of which use detachable magazines and none of which are affected by the capacity of those magazines.
Semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines were first offered to American hunters in 1911. Even that rifle, the Remington Model 8, could be fitted with a 20-round magazine.
The much-hyped wounding capabilities of the AR-15 have nothing to do with the rifle. They are the result of the use of a high-velocity, low-weight bullet that was part of a cartridge originally specified because it was lighter and less expensive than the cartridge it replaced.
The 5.56mm/.223 cartridge was designed to be intermediate between the cartridge used in personal defense weapons, such as the M1911 .45-caliber pistol and .30-caliber M1 carbine, and the 7.62mm/.30-caliber cartridge used in the standard battle rifle of the day.
There are other rifles chambered for the .223 cartridge. As a matter of fast, the .223 is more powerful when fired from a bolt-action rifle because none of the propellant gases are siphoned off to operated the action.
These are reasons that people who do know something about guns dismiss the arguments made by those who don’t.
As for the NRA, I try to avoid mentioning them when discussing gun control because it is clear that any progress to be made will have to be done without them. Vilifying them only fires up their base and is counterproductive to achieving any measurable success. It’s a shame really. They began as an organization advocating gun safety and responsible gun ownership. They are in a unique position to be a voice of influence and reason, but they have strayed so far from their original mission. They became an extension of the gun manufacturers. The more fear the NRA spreads, the more guns the manufacturers sell, and the more money the NRA takes in. It’s a strategy that has worked.
Are we talking about the same NRA? The National Rifle Association?
The NRA still devotes more resources to gun safety and marksmanship training than all of the gun control groups combined. Of course, that’s not really an accomplishment as the gun control groups devote very little attention to actual safe gun-handling. For years they have complained about the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program for small children but they have never really made the effort to develop and deploy their own.
In a similar vein, the “End Friendly Fire” campaign presented by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence and the Ad Council offers four tips on a single web page and spends the rest of the time detailing how to spread the word. Compare that to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe, which has delivered more than 37 million free gun safety kits, including a gun lock, through law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The NRA gets the majority of its revenue directly from its members in the form of dues, subscriptions, program fees and purchases of NRA-branded merchandise. The primary source of money from the firearms industry comes in payments for paid advertising in NRA media. It’s easy to verify this by looking at the IRS Form 990 which the NRA is required to file each year.
The gun industry has its own trade association and lobbying group, the 8,000- member National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF has its own priorities and they don’t always align with the NRA.
In fact, the NRA has actually called for boycotts on some manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger, actions that didn’t make for a happy NSSF.
For some reason, everyone seems to think the NRA became militant overnight. The truth is that the NRA has become increasingly militant because of the increasing attacks on it and on gun rights. This process has been going on for decades. Don’t forget that the NRA is supposed to represent its members. While the NRA president is appointed by the board, the board is elected by the membership.
The NRA is essentially a single-issue special-interest group: it’s focused on guns. That’s why a reported six million people are members. I first joined in 1972 after completing a hunter safety course.
Everytown for Gun Safety is a single-issue special-interest group as is the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Center and similar organizations. But none of them are member organizations. None of them have leaders that have to answer to anyone. All of them have leaders that are anointed, not elected.
But when the NRA retaliates against attacks, for some reason, it is bad and evil and its members are bad and evil for opposing these self-appointed, wannabe white knights and their agenda. Doesn’t matter if the agenda is worthless and won’t do anything that is promised, NRA members are still bad and evil for saying “No.”
Must be an interesting universe in which you live but I think I’ll pass.
I’ll leave you with one last thought: In any debate, the point is not to persuade one’s opponent. It’s to persuade the audience. For this reason, I strive to present not only a different point of view, but rational arguments to support it.
It’s not that I believe nothing can be done. I just don’t believe in doing what really amounts to less than nothing.