I can’t just keep quiet about Las Vegas. Everything that can be said about gun control has already been said—many times over—and it has had no affect other than to polarize previously stated opinions.
Maybe this time will be different. Let’s just deal with assault weapons. I doubt that many will disagree with this unassailable fact: the sole purpose of an assault weapon is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time. Sadly, there are occasions when that may be a valid reason for their existence but it is true only in instances of war or some equivalent of it.
In 1994 Congress passed a ban on assault weapons but, in their wisdom, allowed the law to expire in 2004, largely due to the pressure of the gun lobby. Seven states currently ban them and they are worth mentioning: California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.
Can we expect our Congress to do anything in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre? Perhaps, since once of their own members was the victim of an assault rifle attack. Steve Scalise (R-La) may be the one man who can make it happen.
The irony is amazing. Scalise is the majority whip in the House and because of that the capitol police were at the baseball practice to protect him. They were responsible for controlling the situation very quickly; otherwise the field might have been littered with congressional bodies. That the one they were there to guard was the only causality is beyond amazing. Rep. Scalise received a bipartisan standing ovation on his return to work after his near-fatal encounter. He is in a position to use his frightful injury in a very positive way.
The usual tired and pointless arguments will be trotted out. We have heard them all ad nauseam. Restrictive laws will favor the criminals, there are so many guns floating around that it will be impossible to control them, those owning guns will suddenly be turned into lawbreakers, and on and on it will go.
The analogies to refute that are numerous but I will mention only one: driving a car. Nearly 40,000 people died in car crashes in 2016, the most in a decade. Can you imagine how large that number would be if we didn’t test and license drivers, if we didn’t have laws to control speeding or driving while impaired? Have those restrictive laws impeded our freedom of the road?
Obviously required registration of assault weapons will not remove the threat but it certainly will keep a mass of weapons from being accumulated by a psychotic who is planning a massacre. The argument that this will lead to mass seizure of all guns is no more logical than the government seizing our cars. Oversize magazines certainly can be registered. If you need thirty rounds fired in two seconds to bring down a deer, then a trip to the firing range would seem in order.
In a surprising move the NRA issued a statement regulating “bump stocks,” a device that augments rapid firing of semi-automatic weapons. It is allowed to help disabled shooters to operate a weapon more efficiently. Rare is the assassin who is physically handicapped; those hunters who are do not need automatic weapons to sit motionless in a deer stand.
There are no simple solutions and certainly no comprehensive ones but that doesn’t mean we ignore the problem. We should make our state and federal legislators step up and stand up for applying principles based on logic and sanity to the very real threat of public massacres. Sadly, unless something is done, Las Vegas will not be the last.