We can’t watch the news very long the last few days without getting angry or depressed. The politicization of the mass shooting in Newtown by both sides is disgusting. The media coverage is manipulative and exploitative. That said, the debate about gun control and the 2nd amendment is on.
A lot of people have changed their opinions. Not me. I haven’t understood why a civilian needs assault weapons for years. I don’t agree with those who interpret the Second Amendment as rationale to acquire military hardware. The combination of the Columbine massacre and my own experience shooting these kinds of weapons (in a legal, controlled environment) solidified this opinion. To repeat the title of this post: you don’t need an AR-15. They need to be restricted to the military and specialized police units, period.
I have a lot of friends and relatives who own lots of guns. Some of them likely have semi-auto assault weapons like the AR-15. If you engage these folks in conversation about shooting these weapons, the consensus is this: they’re fun to shoot. Emptying an extended clip downrange and shredding a target in seconds is fun. But I submit to you that the sense of enjoyment and satisfaction the average civilian may get from these weapons is not worth the associated risk factors. Specifically, the more of these weapons that are available in the general populace, the more likely something like Newtown happens. Or Aurora. Or Virginia Tech. Or Columbine.
It’s not worth it.
You can protect your home or business with a handgun or shotgun or a hunting rifle. And please don’t give me the scenario of Katrina looters or the L.A. riots and Korean business owners. I heard that twice yesterday and it’s bunk. A shotgun will deter looters or rioters just as well as an AR-15. And if not, well – you assume your own risk when you open a business in the inner city or stay behind to defend your home in the wake of disaster. This risk equation, of maybe an assault rifle deters someone in some situation doesn’t balance with the side of potential for mass murder by disturbed people.
The hardline NRA platform is to challenge any restriction to firearms ownership. That needs to change. We are going to have this conversation now, as a country and individually. People need to re-examine their stances and do some introspection on the why and where of their 2nd Amendment beliefs. I’m a supporter of the right to bear arms for self-protection. I think concealed carry is a good idea (but we need a single national standard that’s rigorous on background checks and education, and cost prohibitive). But I also believe we have way too many guns available in this country. Quite the paradox, no?
I look forward to individual conversations with my friends and family who may disagree with me here. Because I’m not going to let this go. Too many of us have just shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘this problem is too hard’ for too long.
We’ll get back to our regular lighter blogging fare presently.