Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.
Commentary: The last two week’s entries are a bit different — a personal dialogue. No characters. No scenes in coffee shops or in the office. Just personal dialogue.
At the end of Entry #282, I gave no hint about a recommendation for reducing gun violence in America. The vagueness was intentional, in part, because I wanted to: (i) think through my ideas; (ii) recognize possible meaningful actions at the state or Federal level during the then upcoming week.
Yes, I know one week does not a trend make. But this past week helped solidify, at least for me, what action needs to be taken.
First, it appears more and more people are realizing what the military and gun enthusiasts have known for some time – the AR-15 is not a sport rifle, is not a hunting rifle but is an assault weapon designed for killing as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.
My conclusion and recommendation: sale and ownership of AR-15’s and similar military-grade weapons need to be banned. The ban would apply to new sales through dealers or between private individuals. Further ownership of any AR-15 (and other designated weapons) would be banned. No grandfathering.
Weapons currently in private hands would be returned to authorities for disposal. Owners would receive some compensation for turning in the weapons. Those not turning in designated weapons would be subject to a felony conviction and losses of rights associated with such a conviction.
The only sales of AR-15’s and other designated weapons would be to the military. An attempted sale of such weapons to any other individual or entity would carry an automatic felony conviction and void any compensation for turning in the weapon.
Why such a harsh recommendation? First and foremost, these type weapons are not needed outside the military. For those who insist on firearms to protect self and/or property, hunting rifles, shotguns and pistols are more than adequate. For hunters, using AR-15’s is hardly sport, even if hunting elephants, lions, tigers or bears, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway.
Aside from the lack of need for these type weapons, I am recommending the approach because compromise will not begin to solve the underlying problem of ownership of military weapons in civilian hands. This baby cannot be cut in half.
The NRA and the hard right have such a warped sense of reality on this issue that a compromise would only migrate efforts to reduce gun violence from outlandishly unworkable to extremely unworkable. The NRA’s approach to any effort to address the problem is to offer No Rational Alternative.
Banning assault weapons is not unprecedented. Beginning in 1994 Federal law banned the sales of newly manufactured assault weapons. Former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan, wrote to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of banning “semi-automatic assault guns”. The law passed with bi-partisan support. Congress let the law expire in 2004.
The law had many loopholes, which reduced potential effectiveness. Part of the justification for not renewing the ban in 2004 was the lack of clear evidence that crime had been reduced. Well, I’ll tell you what. Put enough loopholes in any kind of regulation and people will find a way around the regulation, thereby negating its intended purpose. The justufucation for not renewing the ban seems as ill-conceived as using a sieve for a drinking cup and wondering why you can’t get much water.
The NRA and hard right, as both are prone to do, have created alternative universes to help justify their position. The interpretation of the Second Amendment is a good example of an alternative universe.
What is the wording of the Second Amendment? “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Why was the Second Amendment added to the Constitution? At the time the US had a very small standing Army, debt from the Revolutionary War was high, and the Federal government had very limited resources and virtually no taxing power. To have an effective militia meant that the states and its residents needed to comprise most of the troops (think today’s National Guard.) In addition, there was concern about defending the country against a foreign invasion (e.g., war with the British didn’t end until the War of 1812) and individuals settling the west were fighting Native Americans.
In that context, the Second Amendment seems perfectly logical. Guys, get it? The regular citizens of the country made up the military when the Constitution was written. And, if you’re a strict “Constitutionalist” and interpret the Constitution as originally written, the weapons were single-shot flint locks, not AR-15’s.
Look, if you want to get your jollies and fire AR-15’s, 30-calibre and/or 50-calibre machine guns, toss hand grenades and other things that go boom, then join the Army or Marines. You might feel a little differently after you’re the target of someone firing these weapons. Not quite as much fun.
Does the proposed ban on military-grade weapons have a chance of passage? What about those who believe that a ban on these type weapons is only the first step of many that will allow the Federal government to take complete control of one’s life. Out with the democracy and in with socialism.
Get serious conservatives. If you understood government, you might realize that you already live in a country where the government allows you basic rights. That piece of property you think you own? Your right to ownership is a function of government. The freedom to travel? That freedom is a function of government. Hate to burst your conservative bubble, but the freedoms that you have are because the government lets you have those freedoms.
David Brooks, a conservative op-ed columnist for the New York Times, recently suggested that to make progress closing the gap on certain social issues we need to respect the other side’s point of view. I agree…and on most issues I think the approach will work. On the issue of working to reduce gun violence and why recognizing that ease of access to and ownership of assault rifles is a major contributing factor, I’ve tried to listen, as have many others. But when you’re dealing with people whose position has no rational support…and dealing with people who are even unwilling to discuss the issues, I say, David, in this case you’re wrong.
The ultimate insult to rational people came this past week when many in the NRA and on the hard right claimed the students at the Parkland, FL high school where 17 fellow students and teachers died, were not students but paid actors. Sure Rushman. 17 people get killed. Some students protest because adults are either too lazy or too stupid or too brainwashed by you, Fox and others, to take no action. And you have the gall to claim the students are phony? No, Rushman, you’re the phony. The kids have guts.
I hope these students ask their grandparents to coach them about how the grandparent protested the Vietnam War. Then the kids can go to Washington, march in front of the White House and chant, “Hey, hey, Donald J! How many kids did you kill today?”
The students are the future of this country. Rather than mock them, we should support them.
Where does that leave us? Given the rigidity of the right and the No-Reasonable-Alternative NRA, the only significant step that I can think of to begin to change the culture of gun ownership and to begin reducing gun-related violence is to ban the manufacture, sale and ownership by non-military personnel or entities of all military-grade weapons. With the ban, no one’s right to own a weapon for hunting, sport or defense will be affected. Folks, we need only one military.