[Originally published in August [and again in December 2012] after the mass murders in Colorado; since then the Oregon mall shootings and the murder of many elementary school children in Connecticut, and now (June 2016) the Orlando murders.]
And once again (October 2017) the Las Vegas murders (the current record holder). [see comment below]
We always had guns on the farm where I was raised. Because of a miscommunication I got a rifle of my own when I was 10 years old. And then like the kid Joey in the movie “Shane” I was not allowed any ammunition until my parents thought it appropriate. (The miscommunication? Mom had asked her son-in-law to purchase a 22 for a Christmas present. He did. He thought it was for me and so when he delivered it he immediately showed it to my step-father, the intended recipient.)
So, my step-father showed me how to use it. And we used guns from time to time for keeping the livestock safe from coyotes, skunks, weasels, and other assorted critters. The old 12 gauge shotgun we had would knock you on your butt if you were not careful. Ironically we also used a rifle to kill food animals once a year for the freezer. My first kill was a jack-rabbit which we fed to the dog. I asked why I couldn’t have a repeating rifle like the ones being advertised in “Boy’s’ Life” able to fire several rounds per minute. My step-father said “If you know how to shoot straight you only need one round.” So, I practiced until I became a fairly good shot.
Later when I was in the Marines I graduated to the M1 rifle which was clip fed and could do some real damage. I was a sharpshooter – I think the military always liked farm boys as recruits.
So, I have always been around and owned fire arms. But obviously having weapons on a farm or ranch is one thing and having assault rifles and hand guns in a modern city makes no sense to me. I understand that the man accused of the shootings in CO had 6,000 rounds for his AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle with a special ammo drum holding 100 rounds. If it hadn’t jammed he would have killed dozens more people. [The Orlando killer used a SIG Sauer MVX.]
Now, I still own one 22 rifle [no longer true], properly registered by me and then de-registered by our conservative government which eliminated the gun registry, and on occasion I take it to a range for some target practice.
But, I really do not understand why the USA, which had a ban on assault weapons until 2004, then eliminated the ban. What on earth does anyone, other than the military and police, need assault weapons for? I know, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”.
But just consider this: if Holmes’ AR-15 had not jammed he would have killed many more people. If a jammed assault weapon saved lives wouldn’t it follow that a ban on assault weapons would save lives?
Stephen Paddock had an automatic weapon or 20 and his didn’t jam. The death toll in Monday morning’s Las Vegas mass shooting is now at least 59, with more than 500 wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Among those killed: Three Canadians.
Read this opinion from The New Yorker.
And here is a pro-gun argument from a philosopher’s blog:
In the United States, people are often inclined to view gun control as a special sort of matter rather than being a matter of general principle about the legitimate extents of liberties and limitations. On the right, gun ownership is sometimes venerated and defended with zealous devotion. On the left, guns are sometimes seen as inherently terrifying (perhaps even as mechanical monsters whose very existence threatens life and limb). I, however, prefer to approach the matter of guns by attempting to follow a general principle that can be used to sort out what should be allowed and what should restricted.
My guess is that the pro-gun advocates in North America will be bringing out their favourite meme: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” And I ask that everyone think about that. True, guns don’t kill people. True, people kill people. But think about the relationship between the two claims.
Guns ENABLE people to kill people. Assault weapons are made to kill large numbers of people efficiently and quickly.