I have a secret.
I don’t own an AR-15. I don’t want to own one. I don’t much like them.
For some reason, maybe its almost 40 years of shooting, I don’t dig a pistol grip on a rifle. I also am not a huge fan of the .223 Remington round, or its military brother, 5.56 NATO. I should. It’s cheap. Its accurate at the distances I am capable of shooting, its low recoil, the guns are marvels of engineering. I don’t even have to use .223 Remington, I could go for a “bigger” round like maybe the .308 Winchester or heaven forbid, the “fearsome” 50 BMG and stick with the pattern.
But its not my thing. I just don’t want one.
So if you banned AR-15 rifles tomorrow, it would affect me in no way, shape, or form (immediately). Between the available fixed mag milsurp rifles, various shotguns, and the lever guns, my long gun needs, such as they are, would be met. I wouldn’t feel any less safe. Zip. Nada. No effect on me.
Given that, and I am a selfish person, if would be easy for me to say “go ahead, reinstate the AWB.” Hell, go for broke, expand it, register them, license them or confiscate away. I will even concede you might be able to pull that off politically, for the sake of the argument.
Here’s my question: On the day after you pass that law, what are you going to do? Victory, yes?
As we mentioned previously here, some 40 THOUSAND people take their own lives every year, and half of them use a firearm. Those 20 thousand people account for two thirds of the number used to define our gun violence epidemic. I am tempted to say that not a SINGLE one of those 20 thousand people will be saved by this (I have not verified it, that can be an exercise for the reader), so you spend an awful lot of political capital for a limited affect. A hand gun ban and confiscation scheme might save a few people, but you would still have at least another 20 thousand people taking their own lives with ropes, cars and razor blades. The cynic in me thinks that of the 20 thousand firearms related suicides, the vast majority of those people have already made up their mind to do the deed, and depriving them of lead projectiles will have limited impact at best. Lets say best case, you HALVE the firearm suicide rate, you are left with 30,000 suicides per year. A number equal to the one that causes the outrage about the “gun violence epidemic.”
And worse case, you will still have 40 THOUSAND people killing themselves.
Is anyone interested in why?
Enact the ban if you can. Go for it. When you get it done, ask yourself: So what did we accomplish? And what do we do now? What do you do AFTER you ban the AR-15 and rifles like it? Do you ban handguns? In fact, when the Brady campaign was working on their legislation back in 1993, it was specifically called “The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act” so even back then, they realized that the much larger volume of deaths utilized handguns as the weapon of choice, not rifles. At least back then they were a bit more intellectually honest, even if they missed the larger issue of root cause.
After that, do we then ban knives?
Yes, it is a noble outcome to save 100 families a year from a publicity murderers quest for media coverage. All lives do indeed matter. Those families may be spared grief. Countless others will get no such reprieve.
When we focus on the tool, we fail to solve ANY of the problems.
I am told that the presumptive Democratic candidate for president is pragmatic. But my question is, when you have finite resources like political capital, what is pragmatic about focusing on the thing that causes the fewest deaths other than because it makes good copy? When even the effort to seek such a ban appears to be political poison, infuriating some 50% of the voting public, what is pragmatic about that?
If the goal is to save lives, this seems like a poor way to get it done.