In the wake of last Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and 6 adults, politicians are poised to address the assault weapons ban. Earlier ths week, Diane Feinstein-D(CA), said that she will presenting a bill the very first day the 113th Congress is in session, to ban the sale, possession, transportation and transfer of assault styled semi-automatic guns. President Obama earlier today appointed a commission on gun control which will be headed up by Vice President Joe Biden. Both were instrumental in passing the assault weapons ban in 1994, and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. That law was in effect from September of 1994 through 2004. The last attempt to revitalize the law was in 2008 and it failed.
Given the history of the 1994 ban, one can see that it did not necessarily have the desired outcome Congress and the President had hoped for. Below is a list of mass murders or attempted mass murders during the time of the past ban:
11/15/95 - Lynville, Tn School shooting, 2 dead, 1 injured, 22 semi auto rifle
2/2/96 - Moses Lake, Wa School shooting, 3 killed, 1 injured, 30-30 rifle, 357 and 22 pistol
2/19/97 - Bethel, Ak School shooting, killed 2, injured 2, AR-180 and .44 revolver
10/1/97 - Pearl, Ms School shooting, 3 killed, 7 injured, 30.30 rifle and knife
12/1/97 - West Paducah, Ky School shooting, 3 killed, 5 injured, .22 rifle, .22 handgun, 12 ga. shotgun
4/24/98 - Edinboro, Pa School shooting, 1 killed, 3 injured, .25 pistol 5/21/98 - Springfield, Or School shooting, 4 killed, 24 injured, various pistols and a .22 rifle
4/20/99 - Columbine, Co School shooting, 15 killed, 21 injured, various handguns and shotguns
5/20/99 - Conyers, Ga School shooting, 6 injured, .22 long rife and .357 revolver
11/2/99 - Honolulu, Hi Office Shooting, 5 killed, 3 wounded, no weapon description other than gun
12/26/00 - Wakefield, Ma Office Shooting, 7 killed, AK-47, 12 ga. Shotgun and .32 cal. revolver 3/5/01 - Santee, Ca School Shooting, 2 killed, 13 wounded
3/22/01 El Cajon, Ca School Shooting, 5 wounded, suspect shot and arrested by police officer on campus
1/16/02 Grundy, Va College Shooting, 3 killed, 3 wounded, .380ACP Semi Auto handgun
4/14/03 New Orleans, La School Shooting, 1 killed, 3 wounded with AK-47
There were 15 similar attacks to the one at Sandy Hook Elementary. Only 3 of them used firearms that will appear on the newly proposed ban. In those specific incidences, the gunman knowingly broke the ban. But what is more disturbing, is that the rest found other ways to carry out their plans. In the most heinous of that era, Columbine High School, the preferred weapon of choice was a 12 gauge shotgun. Several times, a .22 caliber long rifle was used, and the remaining were various handguns that did not have high capacity magazines. Even the Bushmaster used in Friday's attack, is not on the list of banned firearms in Connecticut.
You may ask where I am going with this. In England 1987, a mass urder was committed with an assault weapon. Parliament the following year banned assault firarms. In 1996, a handgun was used to kill 16 elementary school kids and one adult. In 1997, Parliament banned all handguns. In 2010, 13 were killed and 11 injured and the weapons of choice were a .22 caliber long rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun.When government sees banning something as its only alternative to problem solving, it becomes a never ending pattern, like in England. Progressively, more and more firearms get on the banned list because some lunatic decides that it is his/her weapon of choice. If you oppose such bans, you are heavily criticized as being a gun nut, insensitive or not compassionate. You are blamed as part of the problem, not the solution.
As an avid sportsmen, I possess various firearms for hunting. Each has a specific purpose, were obtained legally, are secured legally and I have been properly trained in its use. I own a 12 gauge shotgun for hunting birds and waterfowl; a .22 long rifle for small game hunting; a 30.06 Caliber Scoped rifle for deer and bear hunting; and a 9mm handgun for protection of my family and myself, as well as for personal protection while bow hunting. All of these firearms have been used in mass killings.
My fear is that the next time one of these is used, it will show up on a government list of banned firearms. The effect will be that I will no longer be able to hunt certain categories. Hunting has been a generational tradition in my family dating back as far as anyone can remember. I don't hunt for sport, I hunt for food. I have been background checked for every firearm I own and all firearms are legally registered. The government, maybe not this time, but next time will be taking a right away from me because of someone elses behavior.
There is a distinct problem with bans. Number one is that no matter how much you want to get rid of guns, they are all around us. It is estimated by the United Nations that there are 270 million civilian owned guns in the U.S. Millions more are on the shelves in stores. Millions more are illegally owned and possessed. Ban or no ban, if someone wants a gun bad enough, they will get one. It happened during prohibition with moonshiners, and happens every day with drug trafficking.
Number two, it effects those that have done everything right, within their rights. The more than 600,000 hunters in our state will all be affected. They didn't do anything wrong, and use firearms for their legal intent, yet they will be the ones that bear the brunt of these bans. The psychotic killer will either find other means to kill, or obtain their weapon of choice elsewhere. Dumb fact, but must be repeated; these people do not care about laws if they are intent on killing.
We all fear that this could happen to us or our families. Fear is natural after such horrific acts. To overcome those fears, we first need to realize that blame lies with the murderer, and only the murderer. It's tough to swallow, especially in an era where we find it easy to explain away our fears by blaming others. It makes us feel better. Like we've accomplished something. The reality is that it accomplishes nothing. It solves no problem and worse, complicates it.
Yes, something needs to be done. Better training, better reporting of psychotic behavior. Mandatory reporting by doctors that prescribe stimulants or anti-depressants. Better enforcement of laws already on the books. And magazines limited to no more than nine. Eliminate gun free zones and allow law abiding citizens to carry.
That only addresses the firearm end, but there is so much more that needs to be addressed. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again, but expecting a different result.