“Furthermore, there’s no such thing as an ‘assault weapon.”
“You don’t know anything about guns, that round actually ______”
“The Virginia Tech shooter didn’t even use a semi-automatic rifle, he used handguns!”
“They’re just banning these guns because they’re scary looking.”
“You’ve probably never even fired a gun, have you?”
Do any of those arguments look familiar to you? They’re all part of a game that gun zealots love to play that involves bogging the conversation down with semantic arguments about gun and ammo specs, or whether a weapons ban is about “purely cosmetic” gun accessories. They’ll tell you that no gun is more deadly than the next and that’s of course true. But what they don’t realize is that they’re not actually refuting the need for stricter gun laws. All they’re doing when they reach into their archives of “Guns & Ammo” magazines is to carpet bomb the argument, peppering it with so much data as to make themselves look like experts, and you like some flower power loving hippie who should stop talking about their precious guns.
The thing that the gun zealots don’t realize is that despite being factually correct about whether a .223 round does more or less damage than a higher caliber round is irrelevant at the end of the day. It’s not about whether or not a gun is any more or less scary, any more or less powerful, or any other specification about the gun itself. Gun control isn’t about impinging anyone’s right to own a gun for defense or anything else other than reducing gun violence, and not just spree killings. Gun control advocates understand there are two kinds of gun violence we’re trying to stop here, the everyday kind that plagues cities like Chicago, and the less frequent but more shocking mass killings like we had so many of last year. And all the stats about guns won’t make a lick of difference to the majority of Americans because we see a pattern.
There’s a reason that James Holmes in Aurora and Adam Lanza in Newtown chose the AR-15 for their arsenal. Maybe Cho at Virginia Tech or the Columbine killers didn’t use an AR-15, but Holmes and Lanza did. The AR-15 is popular because of its ease of use. All over the Internet you can read the comments from gun zealots — they love their AR-15 because it’s so easy to shoot, with minimal recoil, etc. So if it’s popular for beginners, or slightly less trained individuals, why wouldn’t a spree killer grab that gun for their purposes too? And despite all the times you’re going to read a gun zealot — probably in the comments of this very piece — try to dispel any animus toward the Bushmaster, how many of the twenty kids in Newtown that were ripped to shreds by Lanza’s AR-15 would have had time to get out if he’d been using a different weapon, or even if he’d had to reload every ten rounds instead of thirty? Just a few extra seconds while the shooters reload could be the difference between getting behind cover or getting away entirely and being mowed down.
Arguments that are heavy on ballistics reports ignore the fundamental issue we’re trying to address — how easy it is for people to get their hands on the kinds of weapons that are designed to kill or maim large numbers of people in as short a time frame as possible. The next time a gun zealot tells you that the AR-15 isn’t a military-grade weapon, you’re hereby given permission to laugh your ass off in their face. The AR-15 started its life in the military as the M16, the primary difference being a select-fire mechanism. And so we see a semantic argument that is not only just an intellectual distraction, but it’s also completely factually incorrect. The AR-15 is absolutely a weapon that at one time was used in our military, whether they’ll ever admit it or not.
One of my favorite arguments from that crowd is, “You don’t even own a gun! You’re not an expert on them so shut up about them!” Maybe they’re right and I’m not an expert. Of course, show them testimony from Baltimore Police Chief Johnson during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on gun violence and they’ll completely ignore his expert testimony too. After the hearings, gun zealots were painting Johnson as if he were some kind of politician with an agenda, and not the career law enforcement officer he is, because in his testimony he dared to say that the assault weapons ban, and the high-capacity magazine and clip ban would be very effective in helping to stem the flow of these kinds of weapons into the black market — which is precisely the point of those kinds of regulations — and gun zealots were incensed. So even when so-called gun experts speak, unless they’re screaming “FREEDOM FOR MAH GUNNNNNNSSSSS!!!” at the top of their lungs, they’re liars or crooks.
Further to the point, the way America works is that anyone can hold an opinion on a subject. You don’t have to be a gun collector, zealot, or enthusiast to have an opinion on whether we should take the kinds of guns that facilitate spree killings off the streets, or at least vastly increase the amount of regulation we put on them. Iit doesn’t take an expert to read the news reports, listen to the testimony from people who see gun violence of every shade and variety daily, and decide something has to change.
Ballistics are irrelevant to the discussion. People may have misconceptions about the “power” of the AR-15, but I’d dare say twenty families in Newtown probably feel that the AR-15 has plenty of killing power. We want to have tighter gun restrictions on them because yes, maybe we’re asking for a ban on them based on a statistically small amount of incidents with them. But life isn’t always about statistics. Life isn’t always numbers in a spreadsheet. Life is about reality. And the reality is that we saw twice last year that if a deranged person wants to commit a crime that results in mass carnage, they’re finding it easy to obtain and use the AR-15 to do so.
Yes, banning new sales of AR-15s will absolutely put a restriction on your Second Amendment right. Yes, they would be banned not for any other reason than because a few bad people used them, and so all the law-abiding gun hoarders — patriots I mean — will have to pay a price. Yes, no gun law, whether it be banning of assault weapons, banning of high-capacity feeders, or universal background checks will ever stop Newtowns or Auroras from happening altogether. That would take actual societal evolution — a move away from violence and towards peace as a cultural paradigm…and that’s a notion that’s foreign to many Americans. As a society then, we have no other recourse than to put reasonable restrictions on the kinds of weapons one can own as a civilian, and force spree killers to choose another weapon. Maybe they can still get one in the black market, but boy that would sure make a great argument for registration of all firearms, wouldn’t it? And we know how the Doomsday Prepping crowd reacts to that particular notion.
So let’s call the Assault Weapons Ban a compromise. We all know that it’s foolish to think disarmament is either right, or even achievable There is actually something to be said about a populace that trusts itself to allow its citizenry to arm themselves. There is something to the notion that it serves as a deterrent to any country that would attempt an invasion — which was the original intent of the Founders’ inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Constitution to begin with. But it’s not a way of protecting the people from their own government.
Let’s get really “real” for a moment shall we?
Just pretend that every Prepper’s wet dream comes true and America goes full-on dictator somewhere down the line. Let’s say that dictator issues an order to round up all the guns. How the fuck does that even begin to happen, even with a national gun registry? It’d be easier to send a Predator drone up into the air and take out neighborhood after neighborhood than it would to actually round up everyone’s guns. But you wouldn’t last a heartbeat against the U.S. Armed forces to begin with. Sure, we beat the Red Coats with muskets and cannons. But the Brits were armed with muskets and cannons too, not laser-guided bombs fired from unmanned robot planes. It’s a matter of equal force, and that’s just a fight you’ll never win.
So how about we drop the shenanigans? How about we stop trying to play a carnival game of “Guess the Gun Specs” and just get real for a second. If an assault weapons ban passes you’ll still be able to buy all the guns you want. You’ll still be able to keep the caches you’ve built up already. The only change is that we will have put at least one more step, one more hindrance, one more obstacle in the way of homicidal and unhinged killers and their weapons of choice.
And why the fuck would anyone be opposed to that?