Politics with Richard Bleil
Lately, it feels as if mass shootings are on the rise. In about a week, we had a shooting targeting minorities in Buffalo that killed ten people, and a shooting targeting children that killed twenty in Uvalde, Texas. Once again, a chorus of voices calling for thoughts and prayers have arisen, alongside a call for gun restrictions.
For some background, let me remind my readers that I am an avid gun collector. As of the writing of this post, I own sixteen handguns, and six rifles. Just two years ago, I would have made fun of gun nuts like me, anybody owning more than a couple of guns, and now I am the very guy I used to make fun of. So, when I speak of guns, I would like to think that I speak from experience. But with my collection, I’m not the person who will ever walk into a crowd and gun down people. Maybe even because of my gun collection. I certainly wouldn’t want to trade it in on prison.
There will be no major legislation passed on this shooting. That’s my prediction, but anybody who has been paying attention know that the prediction is based on history. Sometimes there are minor laws passed, but I’m still waiting for something significant.
One of the major problems is that our politicians won’t talk. Too many of our politicians are backed by the NRA, which stifles them with fear of losing a source of funding (yes, I’m saying the NRA owns them, bought and paid for), but that’s only part of the problem. At the moment, Republicans and Democrats both have this attitude of winning is everything. There was a time that politicians actually knew how to talk, how to reach compromises, and how to do what is best for the nation. Now they fight for wins for their parties, all while doing nothing but blaming the other party for their failures. We do have too many obstructionists in Congress, but let’s not pretend it’s just one party.
In Uvalde, the shooter, a nut with a gun, walked into the school unobstructed. Once lockdown occurred, all it did was keep the police out. The shooting took place over a forty-minute period. Can you imagine forty minutes of terror? I’ve seen a video of a school that has made major improvements to their building, including bullet-resistant doors and windows, red tape on the floor where the class knows they cannot be seen from the hallway (how simple is this idea?), automatically locking doors with electronic switches in the classroom so the teacher can mark themselves as safe, or as seeing the shooter. Monitors watch the video cameras (all linked up to the police department) and have even installed “hot zones” where the shooter will suddenly, and unexpectedly, be blasted with smoke, causing vision to be obstructed, lung irritation, and confusion.
The Republicans are pushing a bill right now focused on improvements to schools, but Democrats are not backing it. This is a great idea, even if it doesn’t have gun control as part of it, but the Democrats have been singing about gun control for so long that they are unable to see anything else. It’s time to stop thinking one way and start looking for other options.
I’m not letting the Republicans off of the hook. They are so opposed to any kind of legislation on guns that it’s ridiculous. But let’s talk a bit about gun control.
First, can we give up on the concept of outlawing assault rifles? The reality is that ANY rifle can be an assault rifle. I own an AR-15, which I think is one of the major misconceptions of assault rifles. “AR” stands for “Armalite”, the designer of the AR-15. Too many people think it stands for “Assault Rifle”, which is probably where the anti-assault rifle issue comes up. From experience, I can tell you that, yes, the AR-15 would be a great hunting rifle. The accuracy and range of this rifle is amazing. I also own an AK-47. Not nearly as accurate, the AK-47 is far more reliable in dirty, dusty and gritty environments. I don’t think it would be as effective for hunting, but I can see that as well. I have a rifle from 1911 that was used in two world wars, Korea and Vietnam, and is still used today by the Norwegian army north of the arctic circle because of its tremendous reliability in excessive cold. So where do we draw the line on “assault rifles”? One of these guns? My shotgun that is sold for home defense (although I can’t imagine it being used as such)? My lever action rifle because it’s designed for a .357 Magnum round? What about my rifle sold as a children’s rifle that only fires .22 bullets? Believe me, a .22 can be deadly as well.
Stop trying to outlaw guns. It’s ridiculous and won’t happen. Even if Congress passed something so ridiculous, there’s not a police force dumb enough to try to actually enforce the law. On the flip side, I do have features of these guns that should be outlawed. These features make them so much fun to shoot but are wildly impractical. For example, I thought that high-capacity magazines were illegal, but I have a fifty-round feeder for my rifle. This isn’t for hunting. As much fun as I have popping off fifty rounds but show me a hunter that needs fifty shots to take down a deer, and I’ll show you a hunter that needs lessons on aim (or deer anatomy). I have a binary trigger, meaning it shoots on both pull and release. Great fun on a shooting range, but of no practical value.
Currently, technology exists for biometric guns. They’ve been made, but good luck finding one. The NRA stands opposed to handguns that can only be fired by the owner, but the only reason this might be is so people can steal guns knowing they will work, increasing sales as people have to replace them. The CDC has been forbidden from studying gun violence to find the cause. Eighteen-year-olds can’t buy handguns but can buy rifles. No ID is required, and no background check, to buy ammunition, despite the fact that there is no point to buying ammo unless you already have a gun (or are in the process of buying one). Frankly, somebody should have come by to check on me and ask why I’ve been buying so many guns, but there are even laws forbidding databases of gun owners. There are so many common-sense laws that can be passed, were it not for political blockades. It’s time to finally start looking at common sense laws, and both parties to start cooperating.