Solutions to deadly shootings will require correct facts
No sane person would disagree that the recent shooting of innocent children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary was horrific. If a solution can be found that would prevent such an awful crime from happening again, I can't imagine that any sane person would oppose it.
However, given all the circumstances in Connecticut, I do not know if a solution can be found. Hopefully somebody will come up with one. It won't be easy to do, if it is even possible. No law would prevent such an occurrence. It will take much, much more than that.
Shown here are cartridge casings of various calibers. At the far left is a .22 rimfire, the most popular caliber in the U.S. Next is the .223, a military caliber first chambered for M-16 rifles. At center is the .308, then the .270 and .30-06 at far right. The latter three are very popular with North Dakota deer hunters.
Like others, I have watched numerous news and opinion programs on the senseless massacre. I have also watched veteran reporters, those with a national following, make erroneous statements that most unsuspecting viewers undoubtedly accept as truth.
At least two major network reporters referred to the firearm used by the sick killer at the Connecticut school as "the most powerful gun in America." While an argument can certainly be made that the most powerful weapon is any one aimed at you, the .223 caliber is not even close to owning the title of the "most powerful gun in America."
The .223 is one of the smallest rifle calibers available today. It is generally considered too small for deer hunting. Popular calibers with North Dakota deer hunters include the .308, .270 and .30-06 rounds, all much more powerful than the .223. These facts are in no way intended to diminish what happened at Sandy Hook, only to clarify one of the erroneous facts disseminated by some national media outlets.
It has become readily apparent that some type of gun legislation will be pushed as part of the solution to another horrendous shooting. At the heart of any argument about further gun control - and there are approximately 20,000 gun control laws currently in effect in the U.S. - is the sanctity of the Second Amendment, explicitly "the right to keep and bear arms."
Proponents of additional restrictions on gun ownership will almost certainly say that it is time for millions of law abiding gun owners to give up rights written into the U.S. Constitution. Gun owners will counter that the right to keep and bear arms "shall not be infringed," seeing a loss of some rights as only the first step toward eliminating the Second Amendment.
Some major chain stores have already pulled certain makes and models of guns from their shelves. At the same time, gun sales have skyrocketed due to concerns about possible future restrictions. As I said, a solution will not be easy.
The gun used in the Sandy Hook slaying was a Bushmaster model rifle in .223 caliber built on an AR-15 frame. ARs are almost always referred to as assault rifles. The definition of "assault rifle" was included in the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban and has stuck. My view is that any barrel pointed in my direction is an assault weapon. I don't care what caliber it is or how many rounds it holds.
Contrary to what is generally believed, AR does not stand for assault rifle. AR is actually an abbreviation for ArmaLite rifle, the original manufacturer of what is commonly called an AR today. Colt Firearms purchased the "AR" brand from ArmaLite and produced their first versions of the AR-15 for sale in 1959. The military version was the M-16. It has since evolved into a standard military issue today.
That the AR frame has become one of today's most popular modern sporting rifles should not come as a surprise. Following World War II, GIs returning home were infinitely familiar with their M1 Garand rifles chambered in .30-06 and, to a lesser extent, the .308. Those calibers remain mainstays today. As was the case in earlier years, shooting sports enthusiasts are following the lead of the military. Hence, the current popularity of the AR frame in a variety of calibers.
Today's ARs can accept a 30-round magazine. However, unlike military versions, ARs are not fully automatic firearms. Each round fired requires a pull of the trigger. The federal ban instituted from 1994-2004 included a prohibition of the sale and manufacture of magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition, but statistics from that 10-year period shows the ban had no effect on crimes committed with firearms in a nation where firearm ownership has never been more popular.
No one wants to see another Sandy Hook tragedy. No one. In response, what apparently will happen is that some form of gun control will be enacted so that a few will feel better about themselves without regard to the real effectiveness of the legislation or to a constitutional right for all Americans.
In Connecticut, a woman who knew her son was disturbed somehow allowed him access to firearms. Details as to how or where those firearms were stored or obtained by the shooter have not yet been made public. It is an important part of the tragedy. So too is the content of video games to which the killer is reported to have been addicted. In the days ahead we may learn of other factors, perhaps many other factors, which influenced the killings.
A single response to Sandy Hook would be a tragedy of another sort - one which would fall far short of preventing the next horrific public execution.