Head-to-head: Restrict assault weapons
3 mins read

Head-to-head: Restrict assault weapons

No one wants to take your guns. It’s your property, and assuming you don’t pose a threat to anyone, no one minds you keeping it.

That said, we really, really need to talk about gun safety in general and assault weapons in particular, and that’s easier said than done.

There is no formal definition of what an assault weapon is, but for my purposes I am referring to semi-automatic military style weapons. Beyond that, just look at the name “assault weapon”: a weapon for the purpose of assault. As a society, we have agreed that there are certain guns that we do not want to be easily available, such as sawed-off shotguns or fully automatic machine guns. We should extend this category to include weapons for the purpose of assault.

According to the New York Times, assault weapons have been involved in killing 49 and injuring 53 at the Pulse Nightclub, killing 59 and injuring 527 in the Las Vegas shooting, killing 26 in Sutherland Springs, and now killing 17 in Parkland, Fla. All of these shootings took place in less than a two year span of time.

It’s impossible to talk about gun control without paying proper attention to the Second Amendment of the Constitution. It states, “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.”

To drink a beer, one must be 21. To buy an assault weapon, one need only be 18, and don’t forget that bump stocks like the one used in Las Vegas are still legal. My contention here is that we have not been doing enough regulating, as per the first clause of the Second Amendment.

The Law Library of Congress writes the “meaning of this sentence is not self-evident” and has led to various interpretations from the Supreme Court. Generally, the Court has come down on the opinion that federal limits are not allowed, but states can place restrictions such as in the case of United States v. Cruikshank or United States v. Miller.

One of the big problems in the gun control debate is that we don’t have any way to know when a life is saved by gun control. Preventing a would-be mass shooter from buying an AR-15 won’t make the news because nothing actively happens. Something that does make the news, is how often current safety measures fail.

NBC reported that during the Parkland shooting, there were three armed guards outside the school who did not make any attempt to intervene, so color me suspicious that more guns is the solution. Or, as NPR reported, there had been reports to police about the Parkland shooter speculating he might be dangerous, and nothing was done.

Following major shootings, satirical site The Onion publishes a recurring piece titled “No Way to Prevent This, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” The point is obvious: America is the only nation which regularly sees mass shootings, and we must do something about it.

The problem is very clearly how easily most people can get access to an assault weapon. As a society, we are clearly unable to stop people from deciding to indiscriminately kill other people, so we must make it significantly more difficult for killers to get machines of mass murder to begin with.