The first time I fired an AR-15 I believe I was about 16 years old. It seemed undeniably cool, all in black and virtually jagged compared to the wooden stocked hunting rifles I was used to. We fired a couple of magazines worth of ammo through it, judged its accuracy at different ranges and then put it away. I don’t recall firing one again until years later and not long after that I acquired one myself.
At the time I’d intended to start pig hunting (wild pigs, mind you) down in Georgia or Texas where the invasive swinerun wild and destroy indigenous habitat. Pigs can be notoriously difficult to kill and having a semi-automatic rifle seemed like the best tool for the job. But then I never ended up going pig hunting and the rifle now sits in a safe in my apartment.
I don’t fear the AR-15. I don’t fear the Mini-14 either. I don’t fear the AK-47. I am not intimidated by them. I know how to work them. I don’t think of them as exclusively tools for human death. I think of them as machines. I am aware that AR-15s account for less than 1% of all gun murdersin the United States. I am aware that pistols with standard capacity magazines make up 86% of the guns(PDF)used in the U.S. to commit crime and kill human beings.
And yet, 49 people are dead in Orlando and they were shot to death with an AR-15 with a thirty round magazine.
There’s an argument that goes on continually between gun control advocates and people who believe there should be very little or no gun control. That argument is that the bulk of gun murders are committed with illegal weapons and that the people using them never submit themselves for a background check. The argument is that no gun laws would prevent the vast majority of murders committed among criminals in the commission of crimes. Most of the guns used to take lives in places like Chicago and Seattle are obtained illegally, either stolen or purchased from what are known as “straw purchasers”.This is fact.
And yet, 49 people lay dead in Orlando in the biggest mass shooting in American history and the shooter purchased his tools legally.
There is an argument that says that a person intent on killing people in massive numbers will find a way to do it no matter what, as if the murderous are geniuses unable to be deterred by either difficulty or time.
There is an argument that says that the U.S. Constitution grants American citizens unlimited access to as many weapons as we like so long as we do not break the law and mostly this interpretation is fine until it isn’t. The number of law abiding gun owners does outnumber those persons whopossess firearms simply as a means of intimidation, mayhem, and murder. Almost all gun owners in the United States are law abiding people, even those, like me, who own AR-15s. The vast majority of us will never hurt anyone and wouldn’t want to.
And yet, the Orlando gunman fired over 200 rounds at Pulse and two dozen mothers lost their sons and daughters. Two dozen, in one day, in only a few hours.
There are people who believe in confiscation. There are people who believe in making gun ownerspay for insurance for firearms. There are people who believe in required psych evaluations prior to purchasing a firearm. These ideas are bad and they are unworkable. They will not happen. They are also all illegal under the U.S. Constitutionand changing the Second Amendment would be sodivisive that to even try and implement any of them could cause bloodshed.
And yet I’ve had enough. This is enough for all time. When criminals kill each other their families mourn. Their communities may mourn if they were young but everyone knows they died. For the most part, they died because they took up the gun against other people who had taken up the gun. There is no mystery even if some say there is. But Orlando is different. Shootings at schools are different. These events are acts of execution, not battles. They are no different from the guillotine, one lined up after another and sent to the next world.
And they are that way for one reason. Capacity.