Home > Political Science and Democracy, Society and Culture > This time, it’s different.

This time, it’s different.

The shooting of twenty innocent children in Connecticut has caused me to rethink my position on gun control.  I hope that it causes others like me to do the same.  The rights of small children to attend school without being gunned down outweigh anyone else’s right to own any firearm they want.  The NRA will paint this an attack on individual liberties.  That’s a bullshit argument.  There’s a very big difference between regulating access to particular firearms and banning all of them outright.  This is about individual rights versus responsibility to community.  This time, the community wins.

This time, it’s different.

When a shooter entered a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, and gunned down adults, I thought, “Well, if someone had been armed, they could have defended themselves and others.”   A short time later, when a shooter entered a crowded shopping mall in Portland, Oregon and gunned down Christmas shoppers I thought, “If someone with a concealed weapons permit had been there, they could have defended themselves and others.”  Then, about ten days after that a crazy person walked in to an elementary school and shot and killed twenty small children and six adults.  Again, I thought, “If one of those adults had been armed…”

And that’s when I realized just how completely crazy my thinking had become.

Kindergarten teachers should not have to go to work armed to the teeth.  We should not be living a society where we must surround our schools with armed guards.  I don’t want my children or grandchildren attending any school that operates like a maximum-security prison.

This time, it’s different.

The weapons used by these killers were modular, assault rifles developed for use by the military, not hunters.  The only difference between what the military uses and what these madmen carried is the ability to operate at full automatic.  Nevertheless, they are capable of spraying bullets as fast as one can repeatedly pull the trigger.

I spent 21 years in the military.  I am more than familiar with these weapons.  They have high clip capacities in order to allow for the most death and destruction with the least amount of effort.  They are not very effective at long-range accuracy; their barrels are too short for that.  They are designed to hunt human beings in the dense jungle or an urban environment – close-quarter fighting.

As I have stated in a previous post, I am a gun owner.  I like guns.  I sell guns.  But I have no legitimate reason to own a modular AR and neither does anyone else in the private sector.  I can’t carry it concealed.  I don’t need it for the defense of my home and hearth.  I have plenty of other guns that are more than capable of that.  I don’t need it for hunting.  If I can’t take an animal down range with one shot, I shouldn’t be pulling the trigger in the first place.

These guns were marketed to the private sector for one reason: they have macho appeal.  They may be fun to shoot, but the rights of little children outweigh anyone else’s right to a good time.

There are some who will argue that the Second Amendment affords them the right to own these weapons.  I disagree.  If the right to “keep and bear arms” includes, by definition, weapons that can be carried and used by one person, then by that logic we must also include fully automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missile launchers.  I cannot, in good conscience make that argument.  Some limitations must be made for the common good.

This time, it’s different.

Some have made the ridiculous argument that these atrocities would not happen if we would all just get down on our knees and prostrate ourselves to god.  That argument is so completely stupid it doesn’t even warrant a response.  Magical thinking will not solve our problems.

Some have argued that we should arm teachers and school staff.  That, too, is utterly ludicrous.  The people who committed these crimes were well armed.  They were fearless.  They were ready for death.  Only SEALs and SWAT teams are prepared such an adversary.  Effectively fighting an opponent such as that requires dedicated, daily training and readiness, not a weekend seminar.  Even seasoned police officers fire a number of shots that miss when they are faced with a gunman.  Arming teachers would only get more people killed and cause massive confusion among the police officers once they respond to the scene.

Some (myself, included) have argued that we must place more attention on our identification and treatment of the mentally ill.  And while this is true, it presents even more challenges than our other options.  People who are mentally ill don’t see themselves as mentally ill.  As far as they are concerned, you are the one the problem, not them.  Getting them in to treatment is next to impossible unless they agree to it.  You cannot simply label someone mentally ill and start shoving pills down their throat.  They have to want the treatment.  Only after they have done something wrong or dangerous can you effectively force treatment upon them.  By then, the damage is done.  By then, they’ve already sprayed bullets into a crowded restaurant.

The only sensible solution at this point is to limit access to these weapons.  Hunters can have their bolt-action rifles and revolvers.  Competitive shooters can still have their semi-automatic 9mms and .45s.  Homeowners can have their 18.5-inch shotguns.

But nobody needs an AR-15.

  1. Fisher Ames
    December 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Mitch, I really have no problems with the idea of limiting the size of magazines or making semi-automatic rifles like AR-15s more difficult to purchase, but the sad reality is this: we have somewhere near 300 million guns in the US. Good luck limiting access to anything. Short of the kind of effort that would make gun owners take the weapons out back and bury them, that isn’t going to change much, and, anyway, this latest dweeb swiped his firearms from his mom.

    This isn’t a one answer problem. There may not even be an answer. But I do know this: the Clackamas mall shooting you referenced was stopped by a man with a concealed carry handgun. He forgot that the Town Center was a gun-free zone and he had his weapon on him. He ran to the sound of shooting and confronted the gunman, who then shot himself.

    You disparage the idea as bullshit, but if a teacher with a cylinder .38 and a carry permit waited for her chance, maybe while the shooter was reloading, even someone like this loser could be stopped. But I don’t know how to prevent it, Mitch. I don’t think anyone does, or can. Gun-free zones don’t work unless you have someone there who has a gun that enforces the rule. And any kind of rule tends to affect the law abiding citizens first…you know, the people who aren’t trying to shoot the place to bits. Conversely, the people who are looking to shoot a place up find gun-free zones useful since no one will likely be shooting back.

    And there is this: the worst part of all of this it is the fact that I can think of three, maybe four different bombs I could build out of easily obtainable items that would turn a school into a parking lot. It isn’t just the guns; it truly is a question of how far the crazy is willing to go and what they are willing to do.

  2. Fisher Ames
  3. January 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I too am a firearm owner. I too am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But this “is different.” I have to more than a bit concerned about a bunch of paranoid yahoos and wanabe John Waynes armed to the teeth with their ARs and AKs. These weapons have a valid military application, but have no place in the general populace. I find myself in complete agreement with you, Mitch. This shit has to stop.

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