To stop a bad guy with a gun – you need to stop him getting the gun.

Warning. Writing this makes me feel simultaneously weepy and nauseous, so this contains material that might make you feel the same.

The rifle used to kill 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde Texas on Tuesday was an AR15. This is a devastatingly lethal semi automatic weapon that anyone over the age of 18 in Texas can just buy privately with no restrictions, or walk into a store and buy, with a minimal “real time” background check, no permit required and no record of sale; thanks partly to the seven relaxations of gun safety rules by Governor Gregg Abbott last year. There is no registry of firearms in Texas. People over 21 can “open carry” hand guns. In fact, gun laws are so lax in Texas that smugglers ship guns from there into Mexico. Texas Governor Abbott described the mass shooting on Tuesday as “inexplicable”. Perhaps he can’t join the dots that the rest of the world seems to be able to manage.

The NRA likes to say that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Which is as asinine as you can get, because its a lot easier to kill people if you have a gun. Especially a gun like an AR15. Oddly enough, no one is allowed to carry a gun – openly or otherwise – at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston. Given that they see themselves as “the good guys with guns”, you might think this would cause protests. After all, if a “bad guy with a gun” gets in, how are they going to defend themselves?

This is how what the AR15 can do is described in a post that is evidently enthralled by it, and paints a sickening picture of why it is that the remains of those killed on Tuesday had to be identified with DNA tests.

A remarkable feature of the AR 15 rifle is its lightning speed when it is being fired, and even if peradventure the bullet fired does not hit its mark, the gun can get reloaded in a very short and fast amount of time. The reloading speed of the AR 15 mimics those seen in the military rifles being used in war situations requiring combat action. A feature that enhances the firing speed of the AR 15 gun is the fact that the rifle possesses a muzzle of very high velocity. This high velocity muzzle contained in the gun when used with a .223 bullet round can successfully guide the bullet fired to hit its mark (possibly an animal) while also producing a powerful rebound action if the bone of the animal is hit.

The firing speed of the AR 15 can leave a devastating and destructive mark on its target and this is hugely because when the gun is fired, the bullets are ejected out of the muzzle at a high speed. If the bullets come in contact with an animal, they are bound to cause great damage to the bones and internal organs of the target. An AR 15 can fire around 2 to 3 bullet rounds per second, this means that in 15 seconds, an AR 15 can fire about 30 to 45 bullet rounds, so in a minute, an AR 15 rifle can fire up to 120 or even 180 bullet rounds (depending on how fast the shooter is to reload the gun with bullet rounds while continuing to squeeze the trigger).

You might want to take a deep breath after reading that. Or go for a walk. Or have a weep. It really should be enough to read that and know that these weapons should not be on sale. No one should feel under threat from them. But, in the US, those who stand for “the right to bear arms” react with self righteous fury when this is even suggested. When Beto O Rourke stood up at Governor Abbott’s Press Conference this week to make the connection between the dead children and the gun that killed them, the cry from the platform that he was a “sick son of a bitch!” was vehement. A similar proportion of Republican voters oppose an assault rifle ban as believe in the Great Replacement Theory (and there will be some overlap). Their notion of “law abiding citizens with guns” is that the “law abiding citizens” are people like them, “protecting themselves” from dangerous others. Its unfortunate for that argument that some of the mass shooters are “Second Amendment People” who have gone the whole hog into white supremacy, like the Buffalo shooter last week.

To get this onto the emotionally safer ground of devastating statistics.

  • Since 2017, firearms have become the leading cause of death for children and young adults in the United States, and the curve on the graph is continuing to go up.
  • World Population Review stats from 2009 -2018 show the USA had 288 school shooting incidents in that period. The next worst country was Mexico with 8.
  • In 2018, CNN reported that the U.S. had 57 times as many school shootings as the other major industrialized nations combined.
  • The frequency and deadliness of all kinds of mass shootings in the US has gone up 33% since 2010.
  • After mass shootings, gun sales go up because people are frightened, with 63% of gun owners citing “personal protection” as their motivation for buying one. So, the main reason for owning a gun is that other people have them and might threaten you with them; so mass shootings are good for business. Three times as many guns were manufactured in the United States in 2020 as it 2000. Good for business. The gun stalls at the NRA Convention will do a brisk trade this weekend.
  • Assault rifles – at an average price of $800 each for an AR15 – are their most profitable line.
  • There are 120.5 guns per 100 people in the US, more than double the next most gun saturated country, which is Yemen at 52.8 guns per 100 people.
  • There are 400 million guns in total in the United States. Half of them are owned by just 3% of the population (10 million people with an average 20 guns each).
  • 40% of Americans live in a house with a gun, but 70% do not own one.
  • Gun owners are more likely to be men than women (39% : 22%) White than anyone else (36%) rural than suburban or urban (41% : 29% : 20%) older than young and Republican than Democrat (44% : 20%). Some of these categories overlap.
  • There has been no Federal Gun Safety Legislation since the 1990’s, even though 89% of US citizens support universal background checks and 67% an outright ban on the sale of assault rifles.
  • Senator Ted Cruz has received $176,00 from the NRA, which works out at $37,000 for every child killed on Tuesday. He sells himself cheap. Marco Rubio has had $3,303,000.

The line from the NRA and contemptible figures like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is that, rather than remove, or control, or even register weapons capable of killing whole classrooms full of children – schools should be “hardened”, teachers should be armed so the “bad guy with a gun” can be stopped by a “good guy with a gun”.

The problems with this argument are obvious; which is why no one is allowed to carry a gun into the NRA Convention centre.

There were a lot of “good guys with guns” at Uvalde. There have been “good guys with guns” at other incidents and it hasn’t done a lot of good. A “good guy” with a hand gun has almost no chance at all against a “bad guy” with an AR15, or any other kind of rifle.

This is not new. I remember that in the Buffalo Bill Annual, that I read avidly time and time again when I was 8, an inquest jury in the 1880s brought in a verdict of “suicide” for man who tried to take on an opponent armed with a rifle by drawing a handgun on him.

In the case of the police at Uvalde, there is also a serious question about the motivation of the “good guys with guns”, given that it took them an hour to get in, and they were screaming at, handcuffing and shoving parents who were imploring them to do something in the meantime. The school being overwhelmingly Latino, the Police tending to the Right and seeing them as the sort of people Trump wanted to build a wall to keep out, might be an explanation that won’t be peculiar to that locality. Whose lives matter?

So, are Trump and the NRA proposing to have armed guards in schools with assault rifles to even up the odds? Are the teachers supposed to have an assault rifle propped up by their whiteboard, primed and ready to go, just in case? Are they supposed to devote time to training so they can “safely” take out an armed intruder without hitting anyone else? What are the chances of these weapons being seized and used in a massacre themselves? Nothing like having the tools for the job close to hand. How jumpy would these teachers and schools get? So, what does this do to the school? And the students? Turning a school into an armed camp is a hidden curriculum for Dystopia.

The question for them is actually a simpler one. If it had been illegal to buy a gun in Texas, would those children and their teachers still be alive? That they would is so obvious that the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the NRA and its supporters think that their cold, dead hands are a price worth paying for their “Second Amendment Rights”.

To contrast that with what has happened here.

  • After Dunblane, there were two responses. One was to tighten up laws on gun ownership. This was a political consensus. Major and Blair went up to Dunblane in a show of unity. It had overwhelming popular support.
  • The other was to tighten up security at schools. This had been quite relaxed until then. At the school I used to teach at, local people used to use the playground as a short cut between the estate and the shops. You’d be on playground duty and nod to the parents you knew, strolling past with their shopping bags. After Dunblane, the gates were shut and the security buzzers put in. There was an additional control door put in between the reception area and the rest of the school and all other doors were made so they could only be opened from the inside. That was replicated across the country and there have been no mass shootings in schools since; more because the guns are hard to come by than the schools are harder to get into, but both help.

After the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France there was a lot of concern because a school next to the Magazine’s Offices had implemented its emergency procedures, which meant that everyone trooped out into the playground like they would in a fire drill, making them more vulnerable to being shot – had the killers been interested – than if they’d stayed where they were. Local Authority Health and Safety Committees had to draw up Emergency Procedures in the event of such an incident. There had been plenty of school shootings – like Columbine in the US – that did not spark this response, so I think there was an aspect of this that was about fitting schools into their place in the “war on terror” and – had the procedures drawn up become the basis for regular drills like the “duck and cover” exercises that brought the Cold War into every US classroom in the 1950s – they would have had a purpose well beyond safety procedures. In the event, while teachers were given INSETs about what to do – essentially lock the door and get everyone down behind a brick wall – and distinctive alarms set up and tested once a week as a reminder, most schools that I know of did not do drills with the kids. This was for obvious psychological reasons. The chances of such an incident were and are vanishingly low. But the chances of psychological damage from safety drills done often enough were very high.

Parents here feel safe sending their kids to school. As they should. In the US this is no longer the case. The rage, fury and despair on display in US media and podcasts this week shows a society that is tearing itself apart. Its now the long holidays in America. Schools are shut. How is everyone going to feel in late August when its time to go back?

On the far right/QAnon sites, the conspiracy theories are already starting. This was fake. Actors. Staged. Because the Libtards want to take away your guns. The NRA, with its weirdly appropriate symbol that looks like a steer skull with an entry wound in the middle of its head – will pull its usual strings and press its usual buttons, pushing for more guns as the cure to the guns that are already out there – the profits will pile up at Smith and Wesson and Colt and Olin Corp – and the spiral of US self destruction will take another turn – even as it pushes to recover its military mojo in its European front yard -while we wait for the next mass shooting; unless there’s enough of a surge from the majority that don’t own guns and want them under better control; and they vote out every “sick son of a bitch” that takes money from the NRA and pushes their line.

8 thoughts on “To stop a bad guy with a gun – you need to stop him getting the gun.

  1. “The NRA likes to say that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Which is as asinine as you can get, because its a lot easier to kill people if you have a gun.”

    Before you delete my comment like the last guy did, please do me the courtesy of reading through what I have to say. Once you’ve read through it, delete it if you’re so inclined, but I’m trying to get people to really think about the situation and not go off without careful consideration. If you’re genuinely interested in finding workable solutions, so am I. That we disagree on the HOW of this issue shouldn’t preclude open discussion.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, you’re oversimplifying a complex issue. The private ownership of firearms is 100% illegal in China. Their gun ban is so effective that they now have a major problem with mass stabbing attacks. These are attacks that are so brutal that the number of people killed is comparable to mass shootings. Here are a few examples:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-26402367

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/18-injured-stabbing-kindergarten-southern-china/story?id=77368307

    https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/09/china/china-knife-attacks-mic-intl-hnk/index.html

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/deadly-knife-attack-east-china-leaves-dead-15-78104123

    Why do they have these issues? Because humans are naturally violent. We all possess violent tendencies, but the vast majority of us learn how to curb and manage them at a very early age. The shooter in Uvalde, like many others before him, show that not everyone is taught the same way.

    I’m all for finding effective solutions, but more gun control isn’t the answer. If you were paying attention, you would have noted that this attack in Uvalde could have been stopped before it began if someone had simply done something about the very public threats the monster had been making long before he walked into that school.

    He was making threats in public and online years before this attack, including threats to shoot up his school. By all accounts he was violent and had zero coping skills. Kids he went to school with said that he became violent at the drop of a hat, and yet, no one did a single thing about it. At any point, he could have been charged with multiple felonies as he was routinely assaulting other kids at his school. Based on the information still coming out about him, there are exactly zero reasons why he should have been able to legally purchase a cap gun, let alone a real one. He should have been a convicted felon long before his 18th birthday. Period.

    Unfortunately, what has happened here, as with many of the other shooters, is that people who knew exactly what he is chose to keep silent. Had they spoken up, and had something been done about the very real threats they represented, there is no telling how many people would still be alive today. In every one of those cases, someone knew something crucial and chose to keep silent for some reason. Those people now have blood on their hands, and it doesn’t wash off.

    I genuinely hope you’re more reasonable than people I’ve encountered in the past. The last one I commented on was deleted less than five minutes after I commented, which is a new record for me. 🤷

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    1. Thank you for your comment. There have indeed been a spate of knife attacks on schools in China. Parallels have been drawn between the state of mind of the young men (and it is almost invariably young men) who commit the attacks there with that of those who commit them in the USA. But, this makes the point for gun control. It is a simple solution because it works. There is a big disparity between the casualty figures in China and those in the USA because its a lot easier to kill a lot of people quickly with an AR15 than it is with a knife. Chinese gun control laws are very strict. that reduces the casualties from any given attack. So the question remains, would the kids and their teachers at Robb Elementary still have been alive today had it been illegal to buy a gun in Texas in the same way that it is in Hubei (or the UK for that matter)? I think they would. Don’t you? Your point about the need for proper monitoring of at risk individuals is a valid one, but not an alternative to making sure that people with that state of mind are not in a position to buy themselves an assault rifle (or two) for their birthday when they turn 18. I don’t know what happens in the States, but over here children at risk are monitored in school pretty closely for the most part and we try to do what we can to put in support so their worst possibilities don’t develop. But, this isn’t failsafe, and the system doesn’t always work, so not having a society awash with firearms is a helpful backup. I appreciate that the USA already IS such a society and it will take serious legislation and serious soul searching to get to a safer place. I fear that at the moment, the chances of that are slim and the spiral of mass shooting engendering fear, engendering more gun purchases, enabling more mass shootings will continue with the heart breaking results we have seen this week. American carnage I guess.

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      1. Most excellent, someone who actually wishes to dialogue. Words can’t express how gratifying that is, as most everyone else seems content to screech and scream like wounded animals at the first hint of resistance, so do know that it’s deeply appreciated.

        If things were that simple, the solution of removing firearms in general might be workable. However, nothing is ever as simple as you think. Truth be told, just that one action alone won’t do diddly towards ending the problem because it isn’t a weapons problem, it’s a violence problem.

        No, I won’t be blaming video games, movies, or any other popular form of media. Those aren’t the cause, they’re a sign and/or symptom. What do I mean by that? Simple.

        I work in emergency medicine dealing with a variety of people presenting with a variety of medical issues. Before you ask, I am a Tech. My job is to assist the doctors and nurses in patient care. Of the three, I am the one who usually has the most contact with the patient because someone always needs a blanket, cell phone charger, food, drink, comfort, or information. We provide that, in addition to various forms of diagnostic testing, including EKG, lab draws and specimen collection, transport to various departments, etc.

        When dealing with patients, and their chief complaint (their reason for seeing us), we must examine the signs and symptoms and do some detective work. Signs are the subjective portion of a medical exam, or what the patient is telling us. Symptoms are the objective portion, or what their bodies are telling us. Between the two, we can usually gain a clear picture of what’s going on.

        With human violence, something that pre-dates firearms by about the whole of human history, it shows in the things we tend to like as a society. Horror films, action films, physical comedy, violent video games, etc. I’m not blaming those because they aren’t the cause. They are more like signs and symptoms, they just point to an underlying issue that I find essential to the topic. We’re naturally violent and some of us didn’t get the memo that we’re supposed to curb it and only use it when necessary.

        You are correct, there are parallels between mass shootings and mass stabbings. Our violent nature combines with the fact that some people have failed in the whole self control department, and tragedy is the result. This is why I make use of the point, it speaks to our essential nature as well as demonstrating where that nature takes us when we do something as simple as remove a specific type of weapon. Tell us we can’t do something and we will develop a can-do attitude, follow?

        I disagree with the idea that this makes the case for gun control for a variety of reasons. As covering them all would require writing that would amount to a book on the topic, I’ll focus on what I believe to be the most relevant reasons. Of course, this means our violent nature counts as reason number one.

        Someone once famously stated that they didn’t know what WWIII would be fought with, but that WWIV would be fought with sticks and stones as a result. Not only is that a brilliant commentary on human nature, but it’s also a commentary on what drives most of our innovation and inventiveness, i.e., violence (thank WWII for our present ability to communicate digitally). In the end, those bent on violence simply choose to use what’s available.

        If you take away guns, they’ll switch to knives. You take away knives, and they’ll switch to clubs, pipes, and other blunt weapons. For imagery, someone at some point may use archery, though that may just be for style points. Failing all of that, they’ll use something big, like a fertilizer bomb in a rented truck outside a federal building (ahem).

        Furthermore, taking away guns only deals with a sign/symptom without even attempting to address the cure, and it isn’t even all that effective. No one has succeeded in banning firearms in the last few decades, and we’ve already shown that we aren’t immune from mass stabbing attacks. https://time.com/55356/at-least-20-stabbed-at-pa-high-school/

        I should also point out that there isn’t a huge disparity in casualty figures, at least not in the way you’re thinking. Did you read the examples I provided? Casualty is a general term that refers to people who are either killed or wounded in a given situation, which is appropriate in situations like this. One of those attacks had more than 130 victims because the perpetrators went on a stabbing spree in a crowded subway station. Tell me, when was the last time you knew of a mass shooting with that many casualties?

        Ok, yes, that’s an extreme example. What of the others? Casualty counts in the tens and twenties, which are comparable to mass shootings. I also have information from several other countries including Mexico, El Salvador, and the UK, all of which illustrate my next point, banning firearms (or a type thereof) won’t make them or the violence go away. Did you know that they have drive by shootings in the UK?

        To be sure, there aren’t as many, and they can’t hit the broadside of a barn, but that’s immaterial to the point. My point is that they’re able to acquire firearms in a country that has all but banned the private ownership of firearms, and they’re able to do some pretty gnarly damage with them. Imagine what the black market for firearms would look like here in the US, especially when the Mexican Cartels decide to capitalize on the business opportunity.

        You ask a brilliant question! Would those kids in Uvalde still be alive if the shooter had been unable to acquire an AR-15? If no other factor in this incident had been changed, the answer is no. They’d still be dead. Either he would have resorted to another type of firearm, or he would have gone with knives, a bomb, or something else because the violence in his heart is fully entrenched and he’s already decided that his fellow humans are expendable. At that point his only goal and desire is fame, notoriety, and vindication for whichever idea he wants to impose on others. Given some of the back story that has come to light since the incident, there were more than a few screws loose in that head. Banning specific types of firearms only serves to make things worse for people who have committed no crimes. He would have been fine either way.

        I’ll give you an example. Post WWII the Soviet Union took some American M1 Garand rifles and used them as a template for a new combat rifle known as the SKS. This rifle looks similar to a Garand, contains a ten round internal box magazine that is fed by stripper clips, and functions similarly to the Garand. It’s 100% California compliant with almost no need for modification. It’s also very easy to use, and quite common here in the US.

        With enough practice you could easily and effectively cycle through hundreds of rounds in a very short period of time. They fire the 7.62x39mm round, which is the round used by the AK-47. The 7.62mm round is an intermediate round that is a bit larger and heavier than the 5.56mm round fired by nearly every AR-15.

        The shooter could have easily pulled off this massacre with an SKS. It was specifically designed for simplicity of use so that a variety of people, from untrained peasants to professional soldiers, could make ready use of them.

        Now, according to the State of California, the SKS isn’t an Assault Rifle, which means that an Assault Weapons Ban would be useless in that sense. As I mentioned before, it’s California compliant in and of itself. I could pick one up that has all of the original factory everything on it, and Cali wouldn’t give me any issues over it, save for the bayonet lug, which can simply be milled off. I thank God that I don’t live in California.

        Let’s assume, hypothetically, that Texas gun laws were exactly the same as California. This kid would have been able to walk into a gun shop, purchase a SKS rifle, and with a bit of practice, commit the exact same crime he did with an AR. That’s assuming that no other factor in this horrific story was changed.

        This brings me to what I view as the crux of the matter. This kid had a detailed and well documented history of violence and mental instability. The kids he knew in high school all speak of a petulant, impatient, child with no ability to cope with any form of opposition. Basically, he never progressed out of preschool. He’s now an adult sized toddler and we’re discussing his most recent temper tantrum.

        He was living with his grandmother because his mother had limited his access to the internet. He shot his grandmother because she was trying to shut off his cell. These aren’t the actions of an adult, these are the actions of a small child who has never been disciplined. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that his primary thought during was, “This will teach them to mess with me.”

        The fact of the matter is that there are two words that describe the single most important factor in preventing this kind of atrocity, and they are due diligence. These shooters are egotistical and narcissistic. They brag, threaten, and telegraph every single move they’re going to make, often starting years before they finally act. The shooter in Uvalde was no different.

        Over the course of these last few years, many people bore witness to his tantrums in person and online. He threatened people with violence, became violent at the drop of a hat, even went so far as to threaten to shoot up his school. Not only is there no reason why his purchase of a rifle should have been legal, but he should have been a convicted felon multiple times over before turning 18.

        People knew what he was going to do and chose to either keep silent or show leniency, neither of which is beneficial to preventing violent atrocities like these. People like him can’t be reasoned with. He won’t learn by the same means that you or I might learn. People like him only learn through pain and separation. No doubt, had he been in prison where he belonged those babies would still be alive. Someone dropped the ball, big time.

        The final point is that the police made things worse by choosing to stand down for fear of causing chaos. There was already chaos. There were children dying amidst chaos that was 100% preventable. There wasn’t any way that sitting outside the school for more than an hour was in any way beneficial to anyone except the shooter. Everyone who could have saved those children failed them in ways to horrific to imagine, and I for one would love to see every one of them prosecuted and shown zero judicial leniency.

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      2. If your argument is that some people will always be violent, it simply reinforces the point that access to the most destructive weaponry should be controlled. Had the shooter at Uvalde had a knife instead of an assault rifle, fewer people would have died – possibly none of them would have. We have had a few incidents of intruders with knives in schools in the UK over the last couple of decades, and there have been injuries (solely to adults) but no one has been killed. Had those people had guns capable of firing 120 rounds a minute, I don’t think that would be true. Do you?

        Of course its possible to get guns on the black market in the UK, and elsewhere. But, the difficulty – and illegality – involved in doing that, as opposed to popping into Wallmart for a gun and a clip – keeps gun deaths very low here. In 2020, the US death by firearms rate was 12.21 per 100K people. Here in the UK it was 0.23 (and on a downward trend). Deaths by stabbing for both countries are comparable. 5.2 per million in US: Slightly lower at 4.38 per million in UK. So, the unavailability of guns does not mean knives take up the slack.

        I don’t see the treatment of troubled individuals in terms of leniency or strictness, but in terms of care and safety – for the individuals concerned and anyone who might be threatened by them.

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      3. Fewer people would have died? Based on the evidence I’ve provided, that isn’t likely. You’re missing the point. One of the incidents I brought to your attention had a very low number of perpetrators and more than 130 victims. Without looking, I seem to recall four perpetrators accounting for an average of at least 32.5 victims each. Per person, that far eclipses virtually every mass shooting in the last several decades. All the perpetrators needed was large numbers of people in a confined location and a bit of time.

        My next point is, AR-15 isn’t the most destructive weaponry. Note that I referred to the 7.62mm and 5.56mm rounds as “intermediate”. They’re mid-range rounds, at best. Also note that I pointed out that there are firearms that aren’t considered so-called Assault Weapons available for purchase. There are weapons out there that are far more powerful.

        The only advantage intermediate rounds confer on shooters is the weight. The main reason 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds are used by most of the world’s militaries is that they weigh less. This means that troops can carry more rounds than if they were using larger, much heavier hitting rounds. That doesn’t make for the “most destructive weaponry”. Not by a longshot.

        I will remind you that we are using the term “casualty” in this conversation for a reason. I will also remind you that you were the first to use it. Casualty refers to people who are wounded or killed in an incident, most especially in situations that involve mass casualties. You don’t get to switch from a broad term to a narrow one when facts and figures don’t go your way. No moving the goalposts, friend. I hope you would call me out in a similar fashion.

        Furthermore, I would imagine that the survivors of the incidents you’ve referred to are still dealing with the aftereffects of those incidents, which means that it doesn’t end with survival. Having been through war, I can tell you that there are lasting effects that come from surviving incidents where people are trying to kill you. I came close to being taken out by a rocket addressed to “Any Soldier” more than a decade ago and I’m still dealing with leftover issues. Don’t make the mistake of believing that not dying in a violent situation somehow lessens the damage it causes. As much as my children love the Fourth of July, I still avoid it at all costs. The man they call dad isn’t the same man who landed in Iraq on 14 February, 2008. He died somewhere along the way.

        I’m glad you brought up ease and availability. It isn’t as easy as you’ve been led to believe. The process for purchasing a firearm borders on the burdensome.

        For example, the last time I went to purchase a firearm, this is the process I went through. I had to possess ID showing that I was a resident of the state that I was purchasing in. It’s illegal to purchase a firearm in a state you don’t live in unless it’s being transferred between federally licensed firearms dealers, which can be prohibitively expensive. What this means is, if I were a resident of Vermont it would typically be illegal for me to walk into a gun shop in New Hampshire and purchase a firearm. That would guarantee a trip to Club Fed, if you catch my meaning.

        Then, I had to submit to a search through the National Instant Check System, or NICS (not to be confused with the TV show NCIS). This system is linked to various databases, including the FBI, along with databases at one’s state and local law enforcement levels.

        This system is checking to ensure that the purchaser is legally permitted to own/possess firearms. This means that the purchaser must meet all criteria, i.e., must be of age, no felony convictions, no conviction for domestic violence (felony or misdemeanor), must not have an order of protection against them, no involuntary commissions to a psychiatric facility within the last 5 years, and no suicide attempts in the last 5 years. Anyone being investigated for a violent crime of any kind is also barred until proceedings end with an acquittal.

        The NICS check takes as long as it takes. If there are a lot of people buying on that day, it will take longer. However, NICS has 72 hours to complete verification, which brings us to one of the points where I’m willing to see change.

        If the NICS fails to confirm or deny within 72 hours, the purchase is allowed to go through. This is unacceptable to me as the church shooter in North Carolina slipped through the cracks that way. I would rather see regulations requiring that the purchaser’s information be resubmitted before purchaser is allowed to proceed.

        This process must be completed for each and every firearm purchased, which means that some poor fool buying two or more firearms in one day must complete the exact same process with each gun. I’ve only ever purchased one at a time, so I can only imagine the nightmare of buying more than one.

        I would also like to point out something you might not be aware of. You’ve cited figures from 2020, which isn’t fair. Do recall that 2020 saw huge numbers of riots and protests that aren’t the norm in the US. Any other year, and the firearms related deaths rate is closer to 4 or 5 per 100K, if not lower. That isn’t an insignificant difference.

        Furthermore, when you remove the most violent cities from the equation, our death rate falls to a point much closer to the UK. Why would I do that? To make a point you may not have considered. Examples of the most violent cities in the US are New York City, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan, and so on.

        All of those cities have something in common. They all have stringent gun laws in place that have routinely failed to reduce the violent crime rates, which goes to show that gun laws won’t fix the issue because criminals don’t obey laws.

        I’ll finish with a clarification. If someone is showing signs of mental illness, they should be cared for with the best available treatments and medications. This isn’t what I was referring to. There is a difference between someone seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, or something similar, and the human monster seeking to impose dictatorial power over the people around them.

        I’m referring to the mentally unstable individual who exhibits little to no control over their emotions, who becomes violent for little to no cause, and who issues threats to do things like shoot up their schools. There isn’t a jurisdiction in the US that permits terroristic threats of any kind. It’s a crime to threaten to kill people, to threaten to shoot up a school, etc.

        This is, I think, one of the most egregious aspects of the Uvalde shooting. That monster repeatedly violated the law, and no one did a thing about it. If they had, those kids would still be alive. That’s the crux of my argument. Gun laws didn’t fail here, irresponsible people did.

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      4. Side note: the AR-15 rifle isn’t an Assault Rifle. Despite appearances, it doesn’t meet the criteria. Calling it an Assault Rifle is a gimmicky word game meant to associate it with a class of weapons that are nearly impossible for Americans to own. Just thought that clarification needed to be made.

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  2. Its both, surely. Someone sending out alarm signals like that should be on a lot of radars. This guy wasn’t. And he shouldn’t have been able to buy two (TWO!) guns of that sort. However “burdonsome” the system is supposed to be, it doesn’t seem to have been for him. Or not enough anyway. A man with a knife is easier to stop than a man with a rifle. Whether you call it an assault rifle or not, or however you define it is a secondary matter. it is capable of firing a lot of bullets very quickly and the shooter doesn’t even have to be close. I take your point about PTSD. No one comes back from a war and finds the same place they left. I am lucky enough never to have been a soldier. My grandfathers both were. Neither of them talked about it. Its the same for the people whose countries are fought over, except that they are still there. I’m glad that you support more stringent background checks and I hope that at least that might be passed. The figures for firearms deaths in the US overall in any year are grim. 2020 was 45,000 total (or 13..6 per 100K people). This was was 14% up on 2019, so some increase but not a qualitative one. Because its not just mass shootings. The suicide rate is going up steadily. The homicide rate has doubled since 2014. Suicides make up a big proportion of this (50% in 2020) so legal access to guns gives people at crisis point a quick out from their lives that would be more difficult without it, leaving their loved ones to try to pick up the pieces. In 2021 there were 154 accidental gun deaths too, each of them an avoidable tragedy. And the bottom line here is that firearms are the leading cause of death for children and young people in the USA. This isn’t because there are monsters out there so much as that there are so many guns in general circulation. 40% of homes have one, and they don’t have other uses. I have a kitchen full of knives, most of them could be lethal if used in the wrong way, but that’s not why we have them. We cut bread with them, trim vegetables. Guns have no other use. You talk about certain cities being the source of the problem, implying that rural America is a haven of relative peace, but the worst per capita death rates by State in 2020 were Mississippi, Louisiana and Wyoming. In 2019, the seven states with over 20 deaths per 100K people were those three plus Alaska, New Mexico, Alabama and Missouri. The five states with a death rate of less than 5 per 100K people were Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. You talk about buying guns, one at a time, which implies that you have several. What do you want them for, or use them for?

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