Ever since the Orlando Massacre, the idea of passing a few sensible changes to our current US gun laws has really ramped up. People are angry. They point to the assault rifle as the 'bad guy,' and want all of them banned again, just like Bill Clinton did back in the 1990's. When that ban expired, the sales of assault rifles went through the roof, and continue even today.
But there a few problems with that idea, and one of them is the sheer number of privately-held weapons in this country. How many? No one knows for sure. As I stated in a previous article, estimates range from around 200 million to perhaps 370 million. (In the other article, I said up to a BILLION, but that figure now seems inaccurate.) In any case, banning is definitely OUT and the Second Amendment is plenty safe. In fact, you can own and shoot a fully automatic submachine gun, a heavy machine gun, or even a friggin' howitzer if you have the proper Federal licenses. And since no mass shooters have ever used a fully automatic weapon on their victims, this proves that the Federal licensing system for these heavy weapons does work.
Sure. I am in favor of a few minor changes in gun laws. No more sales at gun shows without a clear background check done first on the potential customer. Yes. No sales to anyone on the US terrorist-watch list. Training, background check, and a license from your state before you can own a gun. I favor this, too. You need a license to drive a car, why not one to buy and use a gun? Fees from licenses could finance gun training, gun education, maybe even help innocent victims of random shootings.
After incidents such as the Colorado theater shooting, the kids at Sandy Hook, and the Orlando Massacre, I was temporarily in favor of banning military-type assault weapons completely. But that won't work. For one thing, when Bill Clinton got that passed, all gun manufacturers did was alter many of those rifles so they would skate under the law. They modified the stocks, a few other things, and sales went on.
So what do you do? How do you make it more difficult for some crazy mass shooter to take down so many victims in such a short time?
Well, it's not really about the weapons themselves. It's about how many bullets you can cram into a particular weapon. The weapon itself is basically a moot point. A Marlin 45/70 rifle can kill a Cape buffalo, or an elephant. At the other end of the scale, this writer spoke to a surgeon at the Auburn (WA) Regional Medical Center about gunshot wounds. He said that wounds from a .22 caliber bullet, especially to the center of the body, were extremely dangerous. He would go in there and remove all of the bullet he could find. A few days later, he said, the victim might be up in bed and seem fine. But sometimes, the victim would suddenly seize up and die from a tiny fragment that was missed during surgery, and causing additional problems. So it isn't about the caliber of the weapon, not really. You can buy a 110-round drum feed for a friggin' .22 caliber rifle. Or a 150-round feeder for an AR-15. With either of those weapons equipped like that, a crazy shooter can inflict much damage in a real short time. Potential victims just don't have a chance.
It's not about the weapons.
It's about the bullets, stupid.
That's a paraphrase from the old saying about the economy.
Same idea, different subject.
No one will ever get the NRA to agree to a ban on certain weapons. They will fight that tooth and nail, and break their budget with campaign contributions to every Republican lawmaker coast-to-coast. You can bet the farm on it. So what do we do? How do Americans meet in the middle on this issue with a little common sense? The Second Amendment is currently being abused by certain people, and gun manufacturers feed right into it. The proliferation of ridiculously-sized magazines for both pistols and rifles has become epidemic. They are the current favorite modification for almost any modern weapon you can buy. The Orlando shooter was able to hit nearly one in three of the more than 300 people at the Pulse nightclub before he was stopped. At the Colorado theater shooting, the only thing that saved some people was that the shooter's 100-round drum magazine jammed at shot number 65. The Sandy Hook shooter used multiple 30-round magazines to kill twenty children, six adults, and himself (at the end) in a record five minutes and three seconds from start to finish. Some victims at Sandy Hook were shot more than once. In all of these cases, because of the sheer number of bullets available to the shooter without having to reload, this not only caused mass panic, but substantially increased the number of victims.
Here is a way we can at least give victims a fair chance: The US government should immediately ban the sale and public use of magazines for rifles that exceed ten rounds, unless the owner has the same Federal license that you need to own a fully-automatic weapon. In the case of pistols, nothing beyond the number of rounds they were originally designed to have loaded into them. In the case of tube-feeding weapons, same thing. Nothing beyond their originally-designed capacity.
Just in case you think I'm an anti-gun person who keeps a plastic bat in the corner for burglars, you couldn't be more wrong. But 'original factory specs' works just fine for me, and is a good compromise I think.
*Robert Blevins is the co-founder and managing editor for Adventure Books of Seattle, and the author of several science fiction books.