With three of the worst mass shootings in history fresh on our minds this is the question I see being asked by every major news network. As a gun owner and an avid shooter some may be surprised to learn that it is a question I contemplate as well every time a tragedy like this occurs. I would argue that myself and other gun owners have the greatest stake in finding the answer to this question. It is after all my rights, my Constitutional rights, as well as my basic human rights, that are being threatened here. You may further assume that my interest is selflessly motivated by my unwillingness to give up my guns. I will concede that I certainly fear that possibility. It would be incredibly shortsighted and even unfair though to conclude that is my sole motivation, but many will conclude just that. To the left I am small-minded, scared, and unconscionable. I’m not going to try changing their minds. They can think what they want about me. I am entirely secure in who and what I am. What I will argue however, is the answer to this question: Why does this keep happening?
So here I am again writing in defense of the 2nd Amendment. It’s not the first time but I hope it’s the last. I can assure you it’s not my preference to spend time and energy on this topic but I feel compelled considering all the negative press in the main stream media. In many ways it’s cathartic for me to go through this process and I feel it’s my responsibility as a law abiding gun owner to make a rational argument countering the often emotionally driven ranting of the left. I will also say for the record that I am not a murderer. Many on the left have asserted that the NRA and by extension their members and contributors are responsible for these recent tragedies. This is at the heart of the problem. Who do we blame? Why does this keep happening? How do fix this and keep it from happening again?
The left would have you believe that the fault lies with the firearm. I have read so many articles in the last few weeks about the AR-15 that it makes my head spin. Primarily due to the incredible amount of propaganda and misinformation that these articles contain. I watched a video shortly after the Texas incident by USA Today
suggesting a chainsaw bayonet was a modification available to the AR-15. Seriously! Click the link and go watch it. It makes me laugh every time I see it. The idiocy and the pure propaganda of this assertion is just mind boggling ridiculous. Sure, I guess it’s possible. I guess it’s possible as well for a future mass murderer to strap a smoke machine to the front of their rifle to make them virtually invisible to their victims. No need to aim these rifle anyway, right? These kinds of videos have one purpose and one purpose only: promote fear. The AR-15 is not a new firearm platform. It has been around for years. I won’t try to tell you it isn’t a capable and versatile firearm. It is, hence its extreme popularity. You know what else I expect to become more popular? Large trucks to commit mass vehicular homicide. There were a dozen or so terror attacks in 2017 using a vehicle to commit mayhem and murder. It appears in fact that this is a dramatic increase from previous years. Do we suddenly need to consider banning trucks?
Some are quick to point out that in other countries where the AR-15 is banned there is a much lower incidence of mass shootings. Canada is an excellent example. Ask these same individuals though if they knew that in Canada there are more than a dozen commonly owned semi-automatic rifles that have the same capability as the AR-15? One of them is the Tavor: an Israeli made bullpup battle rifle. It has all the same characteristics as the AR-15. Semi-auto, detachable magazines, threaded barrel, and it’s black! Why is this gun legal? Better question: why is this gun not shooting people in Canada? The Tavor is just a single example but one I particularly like because it is based upon an actual select-fire combat rifle used by a military force. Just like the AR-15. So if Canadians have access to rifle with similar characteristics and capabilities, why aren’t they killing each other with them?
The definition of mass shooting is another method in which the mainstream media has chosen to sensationalize and propagandize these tragedies. A quick web search indicates that the number of mass shootings that occurred in 2017 is between 389 and 555 depending on the source. That is a lot of mass shootings! Why haven’t I heard of all these incidents? According to one site, in the week or so after the shooting in Sutherland Spring, Texas there were 8 mass shootings. In the course of those 8 incidents, 5 people were killed in total. Let me be clear. Those five lives ARE important and should not be marginalized, but to consider those incidents in the same context as Las Vegas or Texas is disingenuous and manipulative. Looking more closely at those individual instances you quickly find that they include things like gang violence, a fight in a nightclub, a fight outside a bar and at a concert. These are not the same types of incidents and I doubt anyone would rationally compare any of them to the shootings that occurred in Las Vegas, Texas, or Florida. What the liberal media will do however is use those incidences to inflate the number of “mass shootings” occurring and further instill fear into the general public.
The left would have you believe these tragedies would be prevented by more gun laws.
Furthermore, gun control advocates continue to focus on the AR-15 citing just how many people are being killed by this evil rifle while ignoring the overwhelming numbers being killed in the inner cities of America with handguns. It stinks of agenda and reeks of disingenuousness. Living in the state of Maryland I know a thing or two about gun laws. Maryland is ranked in the top ten of states with the strictest gun laws. I have gone through the extensive (and expensive) process of obtaining a Maryland Handgun License and have done more background checks than I can keep track of. I have spent a significant amount of time interacting with the gun community and local firearms dealers and I wouldn’t have a clue how to obtain a firearm illegally. Regardless of Maryland’s strict gun laws the City of Baltimore was recently named the most dangerous big city in America. With 343 murders in 2017 it had its highest per capita rate ever. Those deaths related to firearms are overwhelmingly committed with handguns and those handguns were not obtained legally. In a recent interview Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh tells a story about an 18 year old man shot by police while carrying a gun just one day after getting bail for previous gun and drug felonies. In Maryland you see, it takes seven days to get a handgun legally, or just one day if you are a criminal. Instead of addressing these issues though, Maryland politicians are attempting to push through new legislation that will do nothing to address the hundreds of deaths in their local city but instead punish and limit law abiding citizens.
Japan is an interesting study in crime with its uncannily low crime rate. It is considered one of the safest industrialized countries in the world. In a country of more than 125 million people it boasts of only around 500 murders a year. Are the Japanese just naturally a more peaceful people? I expect they are like any other people. Some good, some bad. Is it possible that their culture has something to do with it? Or everything to do with it? There is a strong social stigma against those that commit crime in Japan. Their intolerance towards illicit drugs is well known. There are cultural consequences for committing violent crime and using illicit drugs in Japan that many believe have a significant impact on Japan’s low crime rates. On the other hand Japan has a high incidence of rape and sexual assault. This isn’t particularly surprising considering their history as a male dominated society. Is Japan’s cultural history at work here as well? Are we to believe the Japanese are just peaceful perverts? I don’t think so. I think one doesn’t have to argue very hard that these things are related to culture.
Another interesting thing about Japan as it relates to gun control is suicide. Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. This is the case regardless of the fact that the Japanese have very strict gun laws. How does this relate to gun laws in the United States? The left would have you believe that banning guns would reduce the number of suicides in this country. With suicides making up more than half of the total firearm deaths in this country this could be a potent argument. Japan however is the counter to that argument. Japan is proof that where there is the will to commit suicide, a way can be found. Speaking of which, in 2016 a man armed with only a knife killed 19 people and wounded 26 more in a care center for the mentally disabled about 30 miles outside Tokyo. I know what you’re thinking, if only they had banned knives so this wouldn’t have happened. Where there is the will to do harm, a way can be found to do it.
So what’s the answer?
- Is it possible that the real problem is the continued fraying of human and social values?
- Is it possible that we have lost sight of those suffering from mental illness and treat only the symptom without addressing the root causes?
- Is it possible that our criminal justice system is being too lenient on criminals who commit violent crimes?
- Is it possible that we our indoctrinating our youth with images of violence and negativity?
- Is it possible that we are increasingly living in a society were injustice is perceived by everyone and battling that injustice through violence is growing acceptable?
- Is it possible that the media sensationalism of these tragedies only stokes the fire of those who feel powerless and nameless in society at large?
The fact is that the freedoms we enjoy in this country come with a price. There is a price we pay for the super big gulp and the super value meal. Should we ban these things to fight heart disease, the number one cause of deaths in this country each year? Should we ban vehicles and potentially prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year? Or alcohol which contributes to nearly ten thousand of those deaths. How about swimming pools? Statistically, children are considerably more likely to die by drowning than by an accidental discharge of a firearm. These freedoms, our prosperity, our modern conveniences, all come at a price. The price I am not willing to pay though is my right to self-preservation. That gentleman in Texas that picked up his own rifle, an AR-15 no less, and ran off the killer had as much right to preserve his life as those folks whose lives were taken in that church. The left would have you believe that we are adequately protected by those individuals in law enforcement. The truth is though that the police are very rarely at the scene of crime as it’s taking place. In the case of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida an officer was on the scene and made the decision not to enter the school and engage the shooter. I’m not going to judge his decision, I wasn’t there. But the idea that I am to depend on law enforcement to protect myself and my family in the ultimate time of need just isn’t going to work. The truth is that you, and your fellow citizens, are the first responder.
Now the question is what are we going to do about it. I honestly don’t know. Let’s start though with what can be done immediately. And I don’t mean disarming law abiding citizens. Let’s start by making it known that schools will no longer be a soft target. No longer “gun free zones.” We protect our banks, our airports, our train stations, our courthouses, our federal buildings, with people with guns. Why don’t we protect our most valuable resource the same?