The .223 caliber Bushmaster is a semi-automatic rifle. It can fire a large number of rounds into bodies and is so well-made that the bullets penetrate and then stay in the tissue of the victim, virtually guaranteeing death. Gun experts describe this semi-automatic rifle as a combat weapon for civilians. The question arises for me: why do civilians need combat weapons? I understand that some people like to hunt deer and bears and the like. But do deer hunters blow away their prey with semi-automatic weapons? Do they shoot off so many rounds that the deer is pretty much obliterated? I don’t think so, as many deer hunters proudly eat what they kill and then hang the animals’ heads on the living room wall. If the deer were blown to smithereens, humans would not be able to eat the meat or display the heads. So why do civilians need combat weapons? To kill each other? Well, yes. If you are a mentally ill man, you will use a semi-automatic weapon to blow away your unsuspecting friends, neighbors and fellow citizens in the schools and movie theaters and malls where they are just trying to carry on their lives. This is a free country, after all, and gun ownership is a right protected by the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution apparently did not distinguish between the rifle that kills the deer and the semi-automatic weapon that can make quick work of a class of first graders. But you know what? Tough luck. America is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, so little Olivia Engel, the “wiggly, smiley” six-year-old who has been reduced to inert pieces of flesh, should have understood that her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is superseded by the right of a mentally ill 20-year-old to own a combat weapon.
I have a few more questions for people who continue to support the right of Americans to own assault weapons, even in the face of multiple, regularly-occurring public massacres:
1) You say that if all citizens were armed, we could protect ourselves against crazy people with semi-automatic weapons. But what if I don’t want to carry a gun? What if I find weapons repugnant? What if I don’t want to walk around thinking all the time that someone might attack me? What if I am a peaceful person who wants to trust my fellow human beings, rather than existing in a constant state of readiness to kill or incapacitate them?
2) So, when semi-automatic weapons are easy to obtain, it looks as if lots more people kill other people with semi-automatic weapons (witness the dramatic decrease in semi-automatic gun deaths in Australia after a ban was implemented) than they do when assault weapons are banned. So what if, just as an experiment, we made semi-automatic weapons really difficult to obtain? Sure, there would still be a black market for illegal .223 caliber Bushmasters, but what if just for kicks, we implemented a ban for, say, five years? Then we could check back after the five years and see if fewer little kids and teenage moviegoers died at the hands of crazy dudes in public places. I mean, isn’t this kooky little experiment worth it, if only to save one Olivia Engel? If fewer people die, we keep the ban. If the number of people is the same or greater, you win and combat weapons for all!