Since the horrific shooting at a Florida high school last week, I have been engaged in many online debates concerning gun control. One of the most typical responses against the concept of increased gun restrictions are that gun control won’t work, and usually involve comparisons to the failed War On Drugs. Gun rights advocates say that criminals and “bad guys” will still be able to get their hands on guns, and the only thing gun control will accomplish is disarming the “good guys.”
So, I have a question to ask. Why don’t we see more fully automatic machine guns (“assault rifles”) at very many of these mass shooting scenes? In fact, why are these types of weapons, which were banned for civilians in 1986, and which have been heavily regulated federally since 1934, so seldom actually used in crimes in general?
I have yet to receive an answer. I guess I’ll keep asking…
There is often a focus on semantics during gun control debates as pertaining to the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which is extremely popular and often finds itself the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
Gun advocates will point out and ridicule people for thinking that the “AR” stands for “assault rifle,” and assert that it does not fall into that category. But the fact is that the AR-15 was originally designed for the military, and the fully automatic version was actually used in Vietnam briefly. The manufacturer of the rifle couldn’t get them sold to the military, though, because the military already had the M-14.
The civilian version of the AR-15 is semi-automatic as opposed to fully automatic, but that difference can become negligible if a person customizes the weapon with bump stocks, which are legal additions that make the rifle mimic automatic fire.
So, the AR-15 can be called a “military-style” weapon. The fact remains that these rifles have characteristics, such as low recoil, light weight, fast rate of fire, and long range, which make them extremely deadly in the context of use in a mass shooting. I think these rifles can be treated the way we currently regulate machine guns (fully automatic,) which are legal but much harder to purchase and own.
Will it prevent every mass shooting? No, but it will make them harder to carry out, and can stop some of them. And just preventing one of these senseless tragedies is worth it.
Photo credit: Pixabay.com/IIIBlackhartIII