On Feb. 14, America shifted toward gun reform. That was the day the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida endured the mass shooting that killed 17 people.
Those students decided they must speak out on behalf of their own safety. Thousands of students across the U.S. joined them in two “March for Our Lives” events last month. Another is planned for April 20.
“We are Generation Z, the generation after millennials. Many high school seniors will cast their first ballots this November,” wrote three high school students for the The New York Times.
“We are the future of this country, yet we can no longer assume that we are safe from mass shootings in our schools. Nor can we assume our elders will protect us,” they continued.
The Washington Post’s Fareed Zakaria writes, “Since 9/11, the United States has responded aggressively to the danger of terrorism, invading two countries, launching military operations in many others, and spending more than $800 billion on homeland security. Americans have accepted an unprecedented expansion of government powers and invasions of their privacy to prevent such attacks. Since 9/11, 74 people have been killed in the United States by terrorists, according to the think tank New America. In that same period, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in gun homicides, and we have done … nothing.”
“[The President] appeared to embrace… the raising of the minimum age for legal assault weapon purchase from 18 to 21 (supported by 81 percent); a significantly improved system of background checks (supported by 88 percent). It sounded as though Trump was ready to call for bringing back an assault weapon ban, which is backed by just over two-thirds (68 percent) of the populace,” writes Truthdig’s Paul Street.
As you know, the president then took a meeting with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and reversed his opinion. The NRA is very powerful, very persuasive.
“Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult. Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting — defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter — every 9 out of 10 days on average,” states the Guardian.
There are an estimated 1.5 million military-style assault weapons privately owned, including the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.
Creator of the AR-15, Eugene Stone, defined it as a weapon of war and a violation of Second Amendment rights. The right to bear arms does have restrictions. “Dangerous and unusual” weapons are not part of the Second Amendment right, per an appeals court decision.
Common Dreams’ Camillo Mac Bica wrote an article on reasonings for owning an AR-15. Protection? “Assault rifles… are weapons of war designed to deliver fatal wounds to groups of individuals within a short period of time.” Expecting Armageddon?
Target Shooting? AR-15s aren’t made for “accuracy, but for maximum firepower and inflicting mass casualties.” Hunting? “Hunting is allegedly a sport and someone who uses a ‘spray and pray’ semiautomatic weapon with a 50-round magazine isn’t much of a sportsman but a wannabe ‘warrior.’ ”
Revolution against the government? “Against a government with a standing army of 1.4 million that spends over $700 billion annually on sophisticated high-tech weapons of war, you haven’t got a chance. Join the military.”
A word about AR-15 bullets. Heather Sher, a Florida radiologist, shared her experience (in The Atlantic) with victims of the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. “Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds with linear tracks roughly the size of the bullet. The bullets fired by an AR15 travel at a higher velocity and are far more lethal. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding.”
Rep. Derek Kilmer answered an email with his thoughts on the AR-15 issue.
“Congress should pass legislation limiting the sale of assault rifles like the one used in the school shooting in Florida and many other mass shootings over the years. I have joined more than 160 of my colleagues in sponsoring a bill making it unlawful to sell, import, manufacture, or transfer a semiautomatic assault weapon. To be clear, this bill would not impact legally-owned firearms at the time of the bill’s passing but would focus on limiting future sales.
“I also think that our nation’s gun violence problem is exacerbated by the persistence of mental health issues in our society. I think it’s critical to strengthen resources to address mental illness.” We’re lucky to live in Kitsap where we have a 1/10th of 1 percent Behavioral Health Tax that brings in about $4 million annually.
If you’d like to help the gun reform issue email and/or phone Rep. Derek Kilmer, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Patty Murray. Contact information is at https://www.contactingcongress.org/.
Olds is a Kingston Opinion Columnist and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.