by Caleb Talley
It’s been more than two weeks since the tragic shooting in Florida, where 17 young students and teachers lost their lives. Generally, the media and other newsmakers would already be on to new topics of discussion, once again leaving the gun debate by the wayside. God knows Trump lends plenty of distractions.
Writing last week’s column, I was floored to realize the horrific Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest in modern history, was only five months ago. The Texas church shooting was only four months ago. It’s astonishing how quickly we tend to forget, how fast the news cycle turns.
But it seems different this time. Yes, White House scandals continue to lure reporters like dogs to a squirrel, but the tragedy is still getting plenty of airtime. The survivors are still out front, demanding change, organizing rallies.
These outspoken students are determined like no other to keep this conversation going. And it’s working. I truly believe that some changes to the law are coming, and we’re already seeing stores like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods conform to public opinion.
As I outlined last week, there are policy changes that, in theory, could have a real impact on the number of mass shootings that take place in this country every few months, reducing the number of deranged murderers who slip through the cracks. Creating an open line of communication between mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies, and improving interagency communication, can be a long step in the right direction.
But as I also pointed out last week, sweeping bans on assault rifles, AR-15s or any other scary looking long gun is not going to do anything to prevent the more than 33,000 gun deaths that occur in this country each year, as nearly 90 percent of those deaths come from suicide, street violence or domestic violence. And the vast majority of mass shootings are carried out with handguns, not rifles.
In fact, studies following the original Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 showed that the law failed to have any real impact on gun crime in the United States because assault weapons were so rarely used in gun crimes.
If we’re going to find a serious solution, we have to be honest about the problem. We won’t gain anything by acting on pure emotion, failing to fully educate ourselves about what we’re dealing with.
It might also prove useful for gun control activists to educate themselves about guns, as well. To put it plainly, assault rifles are just rifles. The term “assault weapon” didn’t even exist in the lexicon of firearms prior to 1989, according to the Stanford Law and Policy Review. It’s purely a political term.
An AR-15, just like any other gun that isn’t an automatic rifle (which has been banned since 1986), only fires one shot each time the trigger is pulled. That means the only difference between an AR-15 and your grandpa’s hunting rifle is perception. AR-15s look menacing. They’re tactical, and a hobbyist can add all sorts of attachments to them. Its appearance feeds into the public’s confusion. And gun control activists are apt to capitalize on that.
Whether it is intentional or not, there has also been a serious misrepresentation of the Second Amendment by politicians and activists.
The caveat we most often hear from lawmakers when proposing stricter gun measures is that it won’t affect sportsmen and hobbyists. Gun reform advocates almost always preface their lobbying by letting us know they love to hunt. Earlier this week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told CNN that for a gun control bill to pass muster, it can’t hurt her “Uncle Dick on his deer stand” – a line she’s used repeatedly over several years when discussing gun control.
I’m sorry, Sen. Klobuchar, but the Second Amendment wasn’t drafted so your imaginary Uncle Dick can take down a 10-point buck. The Second Amendment doesn’t have jack squat to do with hunters, sportsmen or hobbyists.
For those in need of a refresher, this is what the Second Amendment guarantees to every American:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment is a manifestation of our God-given, natural right of self-defense. And that rule applies whether we’re defending ourselves from a home intruder or a tyrannical government. It may seem antiquated, but it’s every bit as necessary today as it was when it was written. We’re comfortable today, but that can change in an instant. And if it does, armed resistance is the last line of resort for citizens when all other measures have been exhausted.
It’s not exactly a fun thing to consider. But it’s reality; just consider history. Gun control advocates wave away the literal interpretation of the Second Amendment, arguing that an armed citizenry could never stand a chance against the U.S. military. Well, the armed citizenry of Afghanistan has for the last 17 years and we’re still not out of the dark.
I often hear gun control advocates suggest the Founding Fathers would have never included the Second Amendment had they known how the weapons of war would evolve. I’m sure they would have reconsidered the First Amendment, too, had they seen some of the garbage you people put on Facebook.
And consider, if you will, the reason the Second Amendment was codified in the first place. Our blossoming country had just won independence from a government that had grown tyrannical over their colonies. The American Revolution, the birth of our nation, would not have been possible had colonists not had weapons and the wherewithal to take on the King’s army. But they did, and they succeeded.
Simply put, the Second Amendment exists to give the people the means with which to take on the government in the event that it becomes tyrannical. Anti-gun advocates will mock, arguing that the founders set up safeguards to protect the country from being taken over an unruly dictator. What they have failed to realize is that we, the people, are the final safeguard.
No, I don’t believe the founders intended for disgruntled citizens to march on the streets of the Capitol with their guns, demanding a change in governance. I do, however, believe that they considered the worst care scenarios, and in doing so, the right to bear arms went pretty high on the list.
I’m confident we can improve the law and reduce mass murders, but only if we’re being honest about the problem and serious about the solution. And I don’t consider forfeiting rights for the illusion of safety a serious solution.
In Cash & Candor, Arkansas Money & Politics / AY Magazine Editor Caleb Talley aims to shoot it straight when it comes to business and politics in and around the Natural State. Talley comes to AMP by way of the Arkansas Delta, where he called balls and strikes at the Forrest City Times-Herald. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more Cash & Candor here.