In the wake of the Parkland murders and the media’s decision to name children who have been terribly frightened as policy czars, people have asked me if I will give up my AR-15.
I expected this from liberals and progressives who loath our right to choose our modes of self-defense. They also hate our right to choose our mode of travel, what’s in our insurance plans, and our right to not pay for abortions. I am somewhat surprised to see otherwise conservative people claim that gun owners and Second Amendment supporters won’t lose anything if they can’t purchase an AR-15. This makes as much sense as choosing emotionally harmed, scared and angry children to lead us.
Gun owners give up a lot if we buy into the fictions and fear mongering about the AR-15.
We give up the truth about the AR-15 and rifles
Rifles are one of the least-used weapons in murder. They are used less often than hands and blunt objects like hammers. That counts all rifles — AR-15s being a subset. Giving into the AR-15 hysteria gives oxygen to people who use it to slowly etch away at all of our rights to defend ourselves.
We give up common sense
There are hunting rifles with nearly all the attributes of the AR-15. By giving into the emotional response going after the least-used murder weapon, we either pretend these other guns do not exist. Or, we choose to believe the anti-self-defense crowd will not go after them next. We must also pretend to believe that someone set on murdering others will stop their plans if they cannot get an AR-15. There are plenty of other guns available and they are just as lethal.
A common trope of people who don’t own firearms is that the AR-15 is “rapid fire.” The fact is, it is a semi-automatic rifle which is just as “rapid fire” as the operator can pull the trigger. The 30-06 is equally rapid fire. Below are three rounds from three different rifles; the one on the far right is used in a common hunting rifle, the 30-06.
We give up focus on doing what will help
The government had countless opportunities to prevent the Florida murders and help this sick boy. This boy — the murderer — should have been institutionalized for his own sake. Instead, he was quite literally allowed to do what he and others knew he would do.
The Florida murders are a complete breakdown of government at every single level.
- There were 39 interactions between local police and the murderer and/or his brother.
- The murderer apparently abused family members, including, it seems, putting a gun to his mother’s head.
- His school identified him as a danger.
- His expressed plans were to become a school shooter.
- His phone call to local police to explain that he should probably be locked up.
- His relative’s call to the FBI explaining, in vivid detail, why they thought he would go on a murder rampage.
On the day of the murders, the people who tell me I should give up my AR-15 for everyone’s safety utterly failed.
- The school monitor who apparently saw this boy — known as a danger — arrive at the school with a duffel bag and backpack
- The deputy who stayed outside, under the stairs instead doing what his boss said he should “engage the shooter, killer the shooter.”
- The three deputies who arrived but stayed behind their cars as the murderer continued to kill people.
If AR-15 owners give into the fear-mongering about the gun, we lose the ability to demand focus on never again incurring a series of failures that are stated above.
We give up the opportunity to force a conversation about endemic violence involving guns in our inner cities
Schools are not more violent and school shootings are not up. They should be stopped and can be stopped, but this is not where people are regularly, predictably murdered with guns.
In our inner cities young people are murdered regularly and predictably. These killings occur almost exclusively with pistols and it takes a child’s or young person’s life nearly every day.
Law enforcement has the tools to attack the killers, but, while the media wrings its collective hands about AR-15s, there is no pressure. Use RICO laws, tax-evasion, zoning laws, nuisance laws, civil rights suits. Use anything to get at the people running the gangs. They, not their guns, are doing the violence.
We pretend there is no mental health component tied to mass shootings
Even the LA Times admits that is the case:
“Repeat after me: Mass shooters are not disproportionately mentally ill.”
This is the opening line of a meme that’s been circulating in the aftermath of the shooting in Parkland, Fla.
But this and other efforts to downplay the role of mental illness in mass shootings are simply misleading. There is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings.
At the broadest level, peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings — an extreme and, fortunately, rare form of violence — we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.
According to our research, at least 59% of the 185 public mass shootings that took place in the United States from 1900 through 2017 were carried out by people who had either been diagnosed with a mental disorder or demonstrated signs of serious mental illness prior to the attack. (We define a mass public shooting as any incident in which four or more victims are killed with a gun within a 24-hour period at a public location in the absence of military conflict, collective violence or other criminal activity, such as robberies, drug deals or gang turf wars.)
We give up the sanctity defend the Bill of Rights as a whole
Murderers abuse the Second Amendment. Sex traffickers and child pornographers abuse the First Amendment and the 4th Amendment. When we agree to weaken the Second Amendment because people abuse it, how do we not set the template that God-given rights, when abused by a small minority of people, can be curtailed by a government that invents the power to first curtail their use and then take them from everyone else.
We give up our ability to choose how to defend our families
I practice my shooting because it is my responsibility to be adept. Long ago, it stopped being really fun for me; I enjoy it, but there are hobbies I prefer over it. My AR-15, then, is not a toy to me nor do I know any gun owner who thinks of any firearm as a toy.
When I bought my AR-15 it was after I shot at a firing range with a friend of mine who is a retired Army Ranger and current security consultant. He recommended the weapon for me based upon my lifestyle, the places we live and the varying times in which law enforcement can reach us to help. He helped me decide on a tool — a very, very dangerous tool — that I have on hand. I hope I will never use it for the reason I bought it.
If anyone wants to have a serious conversation about preventing anyone like that Florida murderer to ever again get near a gun, I am all in. If you want to talk about punishing government officials for negligence, you can count on my help. If you want to place trained, armed and stress-tested adults in schools to shoot killers, I am in. If you want to screen bags like we do at the airport, I will have that talk with you.
But if you want to pretend that banning AR-15s will bend the curve on murders, count me out. I will not consider giving up my AR-15 or any of my other firearms.