Friday, October 6, 2017

A modest proposal on gun control


Colt AR-15 Assault Rifle


Like many Americans, I have struggled for something to say in the wake of the horrific shooting that left 58 dead and nearly 500 injured at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
Using a device called a “bump stock,” the shooter (who will remain unnamed here) was able to spray the concert audience of 22,000 with machine-gun fire from his sniper’s nest on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Outside of military and police forces, machine guns aren’t legal. However, semi-automatic assault rifles – the AR-15 or AK-47-- are legal. The bump stock, which can be purchased on-line for about $200, turns legal assault rifles into something close to machine guns, capable of firing up to 800 rounds per minute.
That, combined with a high-capacity magazine and a bunch of weapons like the Las Vegas shooter had, amounts to the deadliest gun shooting in modern American history. (Not sure what the deadliest massacre in all American history was, since the Civil War was hardly carried out by a single gunman.)
Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot through the brain in Tucson’s own mass shooting in 2011 and yet survived to become a powerful advocate for gun laws, stepped up to the microphones once again. With her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, she begged Congress to act on gun violence. She asked her former colleagues to “find the courage it will take to make progress on the challenging issue of gun violence.”
As usual, it took no time at all for people to find that courage.
White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed out  that it was too soon to talk about gun control. Just as it was after the Orlando killings, the San Bernardino killings, the Charleston killings, and all the other killings. 30,000 last year -- half as many as we lost in Vietnam.
But as usual, it never would be the time to talk about it.
In the meantime, Congress offered their “thoughts and prayers” but not much else.  Well, I don’t want to hear about those thoughts and prayers. There no longer is any right time for those.
The National Rifle Association chimed in with a call for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review whether the bump stocks used in the Las Vegas massacre comply with federal law.
This move by the NRA isn’t designed to do anything about bump stocks, but to head off a messy gun control debate in Congress over issues such as universal background checks, assault weapons bans and limits on high-capacity magazines.
Well, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, Renee Downing, there’s now a modest proposal for an alternate strategy on guns. “What we need is to outlaw ‘metal detectors’ on all buildings where laws are made," Renee wrote. "Also security details for public servants. Our leaders are not feeling the full exhilaration of living in a gun-enriched environment.”
To that, I add: “And also outlaw metal detectors and security details for NRA headquarters. I'm sure those “good guys with a gun” would love to go up against a “bad, demented guy” with an assault rifle equipped with a bump stock to turn it into a machine gun capable of spraying the room with 800 rounds per minute.
To which Renee adds: “Yes, indeed! They’re missing so many opportunities for heroism.”
Coming soon to a movie theater near you.

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