Saturday, the Florida Senate voted to ban AR-15 rifles. Then after realizing it had actually passed, they reconsidered and revoked it 15 minutes later. They did go on to pass a package of other gun control measures, except for the only one that might actually stop school shootings, the creation of trained and armed “school marshals.”
Contrary to what the anti-gun movement would have you believe, conservatives and NRA members (I check both boxes) are heartsick over these mass shootings and want them stopped. We just don’t want to see a lot of useless regulations passed that infringe on the rights and safety of law-abiding gun owners while doing nothing to stop mass killers.
If we’re going to find any common ground, how about if we start with the premise that new gun laws should be based on facts, not emotions, and written by people who actually know something about the object they’re trying to regulate? Would you let someone write a washing machine manual who thinks it’s a food processor?
For example, Seattle Police have just made the first gun confiscation under a new law called the “extreme risk protection order.” It’s designed to take guns away from people who have been reported to be a potential risk to themselves or others. Neighbors complained that the man was roaming the hallways of his apartment building with a holstered gun, staring down people and trying to intimidate them. When police asked him to hand it over, he refused. That’s when they forcibly confiscated it. That sounds eerily similar to the behavior of the Florida shooter, and if anyone had acted on the complaints in Florida, maybe 17 people would be alive today. Seattle Police now have to determine whether he is mentally stable enough to get his gun back. This could be a law that actually does some good, as long as there are safeguards to keep it from being abused.
But the story also quotes, without correction, a neighbor who called the man’s scary weapon “a .25 caliber automatic.” They could have at least noted that, no, it’s not an automatic weapon. It’s already illegal to own any fully automatic weapon made after May 19, 1986, and darn near impossible to legally obtain an older one. And .25 caliber weapons are, to quote the author of “The Writer’s Guide to Weapons,” “glorified pea shooters.” He advises crime and spy novelists not to write that their bad guys carry .25 caliber handguns because, while they may be “better than a ham sandwich” as weapons, he cited three real-life cases of people shot by them who didn’t even realize that they’d been hit.
If we’re going to make intelligent laws regarding guns that have any real effect on criminals, let’s start by educating the public – or at least, the people writing the laws – on what it is they’re making laws about. Say, here’s an idea: how about if the lawmakers take a few NRA courses?
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