As the debate about “guns” heats up and the administration is on the cusp of making their recommendations, I’d like to add my two cents and help frame the issue so that we are asking the right questions and seeking the solutions that we can all agree on: reducing firearm related mass shootings. After all, these tragedies are what has propelled the issue back into the national spotlight.
Let’s start with my prejudices:
- I’m a registered Democrat and proud liberal
- I’m a supporter of the second amendment
- I’m a FORMER member of the N.R.A.
- It’s my opinion that the N.R.A. believes promoting fear is their best strategy for keeping their constituents, the gun industry and millions of law-abiding gun owners, happy and secure in the “knowledge” that draconian government storm troopers will not be knocking their doors down to confiscate their weapons (I’m not making this up folks)
Let’s frame the debate:
- We all want to stop these tragedies, but how?
- This blog succinctly frames the overarching issues in this debate…is it about gun control or people control?
- After considering the points listed in the blog cited above…now what about the guns?
- A gun is an inanimate object…period.
Two of the most politically sexy methods of stopping these mass shootings are by banning “Military Style Assault Weapons” and the purchase/use of high-capacity magazines.
Let’s define these terms and look at some irrefutable facts:
- This is a weapon commonly identified as a “Military Style Assault Weapon”
- This is a weapon that is commonly identified, simply, as an autoloading hunting rifle:
What is the COSMETIC difference between these two rifles?
- The assault rifle has a protruding handle for the right hand, the hunting rifle does not
What is the FUNCTIONAL difference between these two rifles?
- NONE…they both fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. I repeat, there is NO functional difference between these rifles
What is the downrange, or end use damage difference between these two rifles?
- The assault rifle pictured (like the majority of the classified assault rifles, including the Sandy Hook weapon) are a .223 caliber weapon
- The hunting rifle pictured is a .308 win caliber but is configurable in other calibers all more deadly than the .223
- So the facts are that the hunting rifle, one not heretofore entered into the ban discussion, is actually a deadlier weapon than the so-called “assault” weapon (those experts on ballistics and terminal velocity will excuse my oversimplification)
- By a two-to-one margin, the majority of deaths in mass shooting are carried out by handguns
- High-capacity magazines are classified as clips that contain more than 10 bullets.
I had my son time me this weekend. How long, I wondered, would it take me to change the magazines on my .45 cal Semi-Automatic pistol:
- It took me 4.2 seconds, to clumsily I might add, change magazines and effectively double the capacity of this weapon. Experienced marksmen, or those with even a little practice, can do this in under two seconds.
- Two seconds (or 4.2 for a 51 y/o man with no practice) is what we are buying with the high-capacity magazine ban…fact
Some definitions and facts for those unfamiliar with firearms:
- Automatic weapon: trigger pulled once and gun fires a rapid stream of bullets
- Semi-automatic weapon: trigger pulled once and gun fires one bullet. It is not an automatic and cannot be legally modified as such
- Single action weapon: an additional function must be performed prior to pulling the trigger and firing one bullet (examples are pulling the hammer back on a single action revolver or pumping <racking> a pump-action shotgun)
- These mass killings make me sick to my stomach and makes my heart ache and I too want solutions
- I am in favor of, and demand, background checks and waiting periods for any firearm purchase
- I am willing to entertain bans on certain firearms if the argument is fact-based
- Reducing these killings will require a multidisciplinary approach, but as it relates to firearms, unless the parties are willing to agree upon the aforementioned indisputable facts, the firearm component of this debate will continue to be steeped in prejudice and misinformation and further polarize extremists on both sides of this issue.