Brendan Descamps, Contributor
If you really want to know the answer, just ask a pro-gun member of Congress how much the NRA contributed to their campaign; there is your answer. We live in a country where school shootings are frequent and have become normalized. Our representatives claim that they need more data and more time to decide if gun control legislation is the best option for America. The argument for more time is understandable, as any meaningful gun control legislation would set a major precedent. However, with this most recent school shooting joining the top-10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, time is running out.
I come from a family where guns are very prominent. My grandfather fought in Vietnam, I have an uncle in the Air Force and an uncle who was in the Navy. My family legally owns plenty of guns, including an AR-15. Differing from many other gun-owning Americans, however, I would give up my guns if it was for a possible solution to mass shootings. To quote a recent article from “The Washington Post” which reported on a message from an Australian Priest, Rev. Rod Bower, to Americans, “When will they love their kids more than their guns?”
The answer to mass shootings may not be to ban all guns, but the answer is definitely not to do nothing. Time and time again we see mass shootings on the news and nothing substantial is done about them. We also hear about the notorious “AR-15,” a semi-automatic rifle that Americans can legally own. A semi-automatic firearm means that for each pull of the trigger, one round of ammunition is fired. For the person behind the gun, this means the faster the trigger finger, the more bullets fly. Although the AR-15 is well-known for its popularity in the hunting and sporting community, it has earned its fame in America’s mass shootings. In the most recent school shooting, an AR-15 was used to kill 17 people.
An AR-15 was also found among the dozens of weapons at the Las Vegas shooting which left 58 people dead. It was found in the shooter’s hotel room and was modified with a “bump stock,” a legal firearm accessory which essentially uses the recoil/vibrations of the semi-automatic rifle to aid the shooter in pulling the trigger at greater speeds. The bump stock effectively makes a semi-automatic AR-15 into a near-fully automatic rifle. According to a “Los Angeles Times” interview with Arthur B. Alphin, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and West Point graduate with a mechanical engineering degree specialized in ballistics, the Las Vegas shooter shot down at a crowd from a distance of 1,098 feet from his hotel window. That distance is approximately equal to three football fields. Now, two questions to all recreational gun owners: what shooting range is three football fields long? What animal are you hunting at approximately 350 yards?
The issue is not in just the AR-15’s range but also in its design. According to Gun Owners of America, the original makers of the AR-15 sold its rights to another company known as Colt. A direct quote from their webpage about the AR-15’s history reads: “Colt marketed the AR-15 rifle to various military services around the world, including the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps. The AR-15 was eventually adopted by the United States military under the designation M16.” According to this, the U.S. military adopted the AR-15 design and renamed it M16. For those who claim the AR-15 is a recreational rifle, I say let us not forget its history and its original purpose: to kill.
These “recreational” semi-automatic rifles have become the tools of destruction used in mass shootings. The time has come for Americans to decide what they value more: guns or human lives. An additional word from Rev. Rod Bower on this imperative decision: “A culture that loves guns more than children has no future other than corruption, decline and death.”
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 23, 2018, Edition of The Echo.