We must protect our children. Let’s ban assault weapons. We must protect viewers of the latest “Batman” movie. Let’s ban assault weapons. We must save ourselves from ourselves. I know, let’s just ban assault weapons. Well, sure, every sane person (and also me) wants children to be as safe as possible. And in a theater, blood and guts are fine on the screen. On my shirt, not so fine. But before we all board the bus to the land of perfect happiness and security, might I be allowed to ask (visualize raised hand) one rather silly question? What, exactly, is an assault weapon?
I suppose that if you’re one of those literate types, you could grab your dictionary and look up the words “assault” and “weapon.” You would then conclude that an assault weapon is something used as a weapon during the course of an assault. So it could be a rock, a chair, a car, or just about anything capable of being used to inflict bodily harm. But seriously, we all know that’s not what we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about assault rifles. Except that we’re not. Assault rifles, such as the M-16 and the AK-47, are military-style guns that can fire high-velocity rounds in a fully automatic mode. A more powerful version of a sub-machine gun. These sorts of weapons have been illegal since, well, for practical purposes, forever. And I don’t seem to recall hearing about even the NRA calling for that prohibition to be lifted. The so-called “assault weapons” that are at issue are guns such as the AR-15, which have some features in common with real assault rifles. Things like pistol grips, detachable magazines, and folding stocks. In other words, guns that look “scary.”
Simple Fact of Life #1: No gun looks scary when laying on a table; any gun looks scary when in the hands of an evil person.
I find it hard to believe that the M-16 was designed as it was so that it could look formidable. More likely that the appearance was the result of considerations of practical functionality. It had to be lightweight, easy to carry, simple to fire accurately, etc. You know, the same sort of considerations that go into the design of a civilian gun. Do you think maybe that’s why many sporting guns look a lot like military weapons? Because it’s a practical design? All guns are, after all, built to be used for the same purpose, to put a bullet in the intended target.
But why, you ask, would any civilian need a rifle that can rapidly fire 15 rounds without having to reload? Well, I see your point. That doesn’t seem to be very practical. Particularly if there are 16 people in that mob that’s storming your house.
Simple Fact of Life #2: The police are not responsible for your safety, you are.
It should not be up to the government to decide for you what you need to have in order to feel secure in your home. Now, I can think of a whole lot of reasons to not keep a gun in your house. I can also think of many reasons why you might want to. But that needs to be your choice. Whether to have a gun, or guns, or what type of gun. Your responsibility. Keeping those guns secure, how they are used is also your responsibility. But ask any cop what his job is. He’ll tell you that it’s to enforce the laws. Sure, he’d like to be able to protect you from all the nefarious evildoers out there, but that’s not possible. The police can’t be everywhere all the time. Would you really want them to be? The protection comes from the deterrence of crime that law enforcement provides. Just one little problem with that:
Simple Fact of Life #3: Laws don’t apply to outlaws. That’s why they’re called outlaws.
When you think about it, all compliance with all laws is strictly voluntary. If someone: a) believes he will not get caught, and can get away with breaking the law, or, b) is unconcerned with the consequences if he does get caught, then the laws simply don’t apply to that person. You see it every day. People drive a few miles per hour over the speed limit, thinking that the cops have better things to do than worry about them. And if they do happen to get pulled over, well, they’ll just pay the ticket and get on with their lives. Laws don’t apply to outlaws. While the percentage of the populace that volunteers to abide by the laws against shooting up a school is considerably higher than of those who never speed, the principle is the same. An outlaw can’t be deterred.
So what, exactly, is the point of banning those so-called assault weapons? To keep them out of the hands of those people who have volunteered to not shoot up a classroom? The bad guys aren’t going to turn in their guns. The old saying is “If you outlaw guns, then only the outlaws will have guns.” Is that what you want? To deprive law-abiding citizens of the right to defend themselves? To turn conscientious gun owners into outlaws? By-the-by, if you’re sick enough to want to waste a room full of kids, and you don’t care what happens to you, then you don’t need an assault weapon, or any gun for that matter. A jug of gasoline, a piece of tape, and a book of matches will get the job done. Evil people will find a way to be evil. Outlaws will find a way to break the law.
A final thought about deterring outlaws. The best way to do that is to not give them what they want. In the cases of these mass shooters, they didn’t seem to have a beef with the people that they shot. So they must have wanted something else. It seems that they were trying to make some kind of statement. So why let them? Every time something like this happens, what do we see? The news media reports every detail of the shooter’s life, his family history, and his possible motivation. He gets what he wanted in the first place, and, of course, he doesn’t care about the later consequences. So here’s a suggestion: the next time it happens, the coverage should consist of “Some a**h**e shot up a school.” Period. Maybe talk a little, but not too much about the victims, but make the outlaw a non-person. Take away the motivation from the next sicko. But then there’s always
Simple Fact of Life #4: That will never happen in today’s media.
Listen to Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.”