By John R. Stanard
No simple solution can cure the scourge of mass murder in America. But it’s time for lawmakers to forget about their upcoming election, get their spine back, and address this contentious issue.
As an octogenarian life member of the National Rifle Association and a lifelong hunter and shooter, I like guns. I have several, many inherited from loved ones.
I like guns because I grew up in rural Missouri, where almost everyone knew that hunting was an important recreational activity. I shot my first squirrel when I was 8 years old, under the strict tutelage of my grandfather.
But the NRA has changed drastically. Founded in 1871 by former Union Army officers concerned about the poor marksmanship of their troops, the NRA has evolved from a weapons training organization to a power-hungry, paranoid pseudo-patriotic “supporter” of the Second Amendment.
While the NRA could work to help curb these manic shootings, it instead feeds its members a diet tainted with they come for all your guns false prophecy.
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With some 450 million guns in the United States, any confiscation attempt would likely make the American Revolution look like the proverbial Sunday school picnic. The Second Amendment is here to stay, subject to certain limitations like any other constitutional right.
So what can be done to stop mass shootings committed by people who have reached the limits of rational thought, are typically suicidal, according to psychiatric studies, and have decided to end their lives while taking many others?
• Require background checks on anyone who buys a gun, with a reasonable waiting period, and exempt close relatives who pass on family heirlooms.
• Adopt “red flag” laws to better detect unstable or troubled people.
• Encourage citizens to report social media conversations or other spoken or written expressions to help identify credible threats.
• Limit all firearms to a 10-round magazine capacity. Most AR-style rifles are sold with a 30-round magazine, although some states already limit them to 10 rounds.
• Allow willing school employees who are well vetted and highly trained in the use of firearms to be armed.
• Prohibit the purchase of AR-15-style rifles by anyone under the age of 21. Science has shown that the area of the male brain that controls judgment usually doesn’t fully develop until the age of 20 or 21. Yes, at 18 years old. can serve in the army. But weapons training there is strictly controlled.
Many of the mass shooters are under the age of 21. They do not possess weapons and are not familiar with them. But often they can legally buy them.
ARs are light and accurate with low recoil. They are America’s most popular rifle. They have also become the weapon of choice for mass shootings due to their sheer firepower.
Many popular hunting weapons are semi-automatic, such as the AR-15. They fire every time the trigger is pulled. But ARs have at least twice as many projectiles and can be reloaded faster. An expert marksman can fire three clips (30 rounds) of aimed shots in just two to three minutes.
Banning all semi-automatic weapons would affect millions of legal owners. My little .22 caliber squirrel rifle is semi-automatic; It came to me from my dear Uncle Mac. With 20 million AR-15-style rifles in the United States, a law banning them would be unenforceable.
Aside from mass shootings, with the proliferation of firearms in our culture, children are increasingly dying from firearm accidents in the home and street shootings. Mandatory gun safety training at school, at an appropriate age and with parental approval, could stop many of these tragedies. How could weapons training be less important than sex education?
The hunter safety course mandated by the Missouri Department of Conservation is one of the best in the country. Such a course could easily be adapted for general classroom use across the country.
In the weeks spanning the three recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Tulsa and Uvalde, Texas, which claimed 35 lives, some 1,800 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in nearly 1,600 other shootings across the United States. These “other” shootings account for 96% of firearm homicides.
And then there is the climate created by state lawmakers who have eliminated virtually all gun restrictions. The Missouri General Assembly is the collective example of this phenomenon.
In Missouri and many other states, anyone who is not a convicted felon (which is a federal crime) can carry a concealed or open weapon without a permit or training. That is irrational.
gun victims they can be reduced without endangering the Second Amendment. And based on many recent polls, I’d bet most Americans would approve.
John R. Stanard, a retired journalist and military veteran, has been hunting and shooting for 75 years. He is an avid outdoorsman, conservationist, and gun safety advocate.