The tragedy in Las Vegas has once again reignited the debate in this country over gun control. Those who advocate for stricter gun laws have become shrill and started blaming one political party, Republicans, for the actions of someone that was either mentally unstable or just plain evil. There is no doubt that Paddock, the shooter in Las Vegas, meticulously planned this attack. Over a lengthy period of time he acquired the weapons he would need, he modified the weapons to allow them to shoot more rounds in a faster manner, purchased larger magazines and amassed a great deal of ammunition. Information coming out suggests that he did some level of reconnaissance on the area and booked his hotel rooms for multiple days. He obviously used some form of hiding to get that number of weapons into his hotel room. The latest information indicates that he may have planned and attack in either Chicago or Boston.
As more information becomes available and the authorities try to piece this together we still lack a motive. People who knew the shooter will offer description of him that in my opinion would differ if they were asked two weeks earlier. Some are now describing him as a loner with anger issues. My guess is two weeks ago they would have said he was an average guy that had a girl friend, liked to gamble and pretty much kept to himself and did not bother anyone. By all evidence he passed all the appropriate background checks when acquiring the weapons. He gave no indication that he would be a threat to society and certainly that he would commit one of the largest massacres in U.S. history.
So now we look at the politics of the situation. As I stated there will be a lot of histrionics on the left and a lot of dodging on the right. I am a veteran and by my own choice I do not own a weapon. I have no problem with other people owning weapons. I have a clear understanding of the Second Amendment and think that both sides take it to the extremes when making their arguments. So let me outline my thoughts on this subject.
I personally believe that people do not need to own military style weapons. Notice I did not use the term the left likes to use which is “assault weapons” since there is no such thing. Having used a military weapon while in the Army I know exactly what they were designed for and their purpose. They were designed to efficiently kill people. The M-16 was the weapon the military used when I was in the Army and it replaced the M-1. It was lighter and had a greater muzzle velocity. Over the years the military has updated the weapon but it remains the basic rifle issued to combat soldiers. In the civilian market this weapon is normally marketed as an AR-15. The military uses an M-4, which is the carbine version of an M-16 and the civilian market calls this an AR-4.
There are plenty of rifles out there for hunting that are designed for that purpose. My concern for the sale of military weapons is that in my opinion they tend to empower certain people and they think they are some kind of soldier. They are not. I go back to the Columbine shooting and the shooter came into the theater wearing full body armor and heavily armed. I believe in his mind he felt he was some warrior going to battle. Most of the shooters in these horrific acts end up either being shot by law enforcement or they take their own life. This makes it difficult to get a clear assessment of their state of mind.
So where is the solution? As I stated I do not believe that military style weapons should be sold on the civilian market. I also believe that the majority of Americans share that belief. But the problem is in the politics. On the left they demand stricter gun control laws and the moment you give in on one thing they will move to the next. By that I mean if Second Amendment supporters said they would agree to remove military style weapons from the marketplace the gun control people would immediately target the next weapon. What needs to happen is to have reasonable people sit down and come to an agreement. That agreement would require Republicans to accept a ban on the sale of military style weapons and Democrat to publicly state that they will not entertain any further discussion from those on the left for banning other weapons.
Do I think this is going to happen anytime soon? No. If you listen to the rhetoric on both sides you know that they are gearing up for another fight. Hillary Clinton comes out right away and starts calling for a ban on “silencers” and her former running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), echoes this with his own comments. Even the Washington Post calls him out on his misinformation. If you want more on this subject read the Post article linked below.
As you can see there is no such thing as a silencer and the way movies portray them is not even close to being accurate. They are suppressors and they are designed to suppress the muzzle flash of a weapon. They will dampen the sound but not enough to “silence” it. In the case of the Las Vegas shooting the distance from where he was shooting would have made a suppressor meaningless with respect to sound. It may have helped hide the muzzle flash but then he would not have been able to use the automatic function he had adapted the weapon for firing. The suppressor would not stand up to that many rounds so quickly. But this is the type of rhetoric that is used by some on the left without knowing the facts. They could not call the for the ban on selling automatic weapons since they are already banned. The shooter adapted them to shoot in an automatic manner and so they jumped to “silencers” without knowing much about the product. I should also point out that to purchase a suppressor you have to undergo a thorough background check and then when you order the product it has to be shipped to a law enforcement agency where you have to present yourself for another round of evaluation prior to taking possession.
I am disheartened by this recent massacre of innocent people. I strongly believe that we need to have a conversation about how to prevent this in the future. I believe that military style weapons should not be readily available to civilians. These weapons were not designed to hunt or anything else other than killing human beings. I have listened to many of my friends who own such a weapon and they tell me how they just like to go shooting with them. It goes back to one of my points. Why is it enjoyable to shoot a particular type of weapon? Why wouldn’t they get the same thrill from shooting a single round carbine that is a basic hunting rifle? I think it is because it allows them to enter into some fantasy that they are a soldier/warrior and firing this weapon completes the fantasy. They can live without that particular fantasy. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle need to sit down and come to a compromise on this very important issue and they need to do it now.