I teach English at a community college, which means I teach composition. I tell my students that, if they want to write persuasively, they need to understand and address the concerns of people who do not agree with them yet–both the opposition and the indifferent. In recent debates on gun laws, however, I’ve begun to recognize that the concerns of people who like semi-automatic weapons are not worth addressing. Screw ‘em. Ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons.
After last year’s massacre in Las Vegas, the general public learned about bump stocks (used by the shooter) and cranks, devices that both law-abiding citizens and mass murderers can buy legally. These devices, attached to semi-automatic weapons, can make them fire at a fully automatic rate. Since it is already illegal to sell fully automatic weapons or to alter the mechanism of semi-automatic weapons to make them automatic, a legislative fix to this automaticizing loophole should have been easy. But the Republicans who control Congress did nothing. Though their NRA masters officially stated they would not oppose such a fix, congressional cowards feared the electoral wrath of the most vociferous gun nut crazies who would tantrum at anybody touching their toys. (Yeah, I really don’t care what they think any more. As I said above, screw ‘em.) That dereliction was, of course, perfectly fine with the NRA and the gun manufacturers, for whom public safety does not really matter. Heck, if the law permitted, they’d be happy to make money offering the general public tactical nukes–purely for sporting purposes, of course.
The most minor, sensible, and popular amendment to gun laws–an amendment entirely consistent with the spirit of existing laws–was more than conservative politicians could bear. Clearly, their concerns are not worth addressing. On this issue, we cannot trust them.
Ban sales and transfers of ownership of all semi-automatic weapons. When people tell me they are fun to shoot, I believe them; when people tell me they are for self-defense or hunting, I do not believe them. Mass killers use them because they are good for shooting, in a short amount of time, large numbers of people. To tolerate that capacity is barbaric.
Don’t compromise this time. Last time Congress banned them, the ban had a ten-year limit, so a later Congress passively let it lapse by not voting one way or the other on renewal. This time, make the ban permanent. That way, if anybody wants to make them legal again, legislators beholden to the gun lobby would have to affirmatively put themselves on record as opposing public safety.
Semi-automatics are the weapon of choice for mass killers. Anybody who opposes banning semi-automatics is, wittingly or not, siding with mass killers. Screw them.