Who needs these military-style assault weapons? Who needs an ammunition feeding device capable of holding 100 rounds? These weapons are not for hunting deer – they’re for hunting people. ~Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)
These things? Never useful.
~Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I found myself in a discussion about guns the night before the Sandy Hook shootings. While I am strongly anti-gun, I don’t hold it against my friends who exercise their second amendment right to own guns and enjoy an afternoon at a shooting range. I asked how easy it was to obtain a gun in Washington and a guy I don’t know very well piped up and said he just bought a shotgun. He went on to describe modifying it so he could load more than the usual number of bullets in it.
My friend said, “Oh, for hunting.”
The guy said, “No.”
In the awkward pause that followed, I wondered if this was the sort of person capable of committing a mass shooting. He clarified that he bought the gun to keep his home safe from intruders, and mostly, he just liked the sound of cocking a shotgun.
Probably the conversation would have taken a different turn if it had taken place after Friday’s shootings.
Say what you want about whether the second amendment guarantees your right to wield an assault weapon, but you cannot refute the fact that many fewer children would have died on Friday if the shooter hadn’t had access to his mom’s guns.
Mentally ill people would still find a way to commit violence, but the death toll would be lower. I’m reminded of the book and movie, We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which (spoiler), a (fictional) school massacre is committed with a bow and arrow.
At least if we make it harder for mentally ill people to get their hands on guns, when these tragedies happen, we can focus our attention on mental illness where it belongs.