Sometimes, an op-ed that doesn’t boil it down to just one or two points is worthy of being debunked.
From time to time, you find one with so much stupid you can’t take down a single part of it and get your point across. No, you need to destroy it point by point.
Today is one of those times.
Charles Hammer, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, is a little scared of guns, so like many, he wants laws changed to make him not-so-scared.
More than 1,000 people had squeezed into that beautiful auditorium, my friend and I among them, before the choir began singing “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
Then I started glancing around us at the many levels of seating, the many entry and exit doors, the hundred or so rows of seats packed with people.
I could not help but ask myself, what if a gunman with an assault rifle and a pistol with its extended magazine walked in through one of those doors. With his AR-15 rifle he could fire 100 kill shots from a drum magazine, and 28 from the pistol. In 60 seconds he could reload and start over with fresh magazines. Many dozens of us concert-goers would be shot dead before we could struggle out of those crowded rows.
But there wasn’t, was there?
Despite all the fear-mongering by the mainstream media, of which Mr. Hammer is a part, mass shootings are still relatively rare. All but a tiny fraction of one percent of all Americans will ever be affected on a personal level by a mass shooting.
My question is whether Hammer thought about something more common, like a fire.
In 2016, 3,515 died in fires across the country. That’s a whole lot more than were killed in mass shootings that same year. Why the panic about mass shootings but no mention of being concerned about how to get all of those people out of that concert if a fire should break out?
Oh, because fire doesn’t advance the narrative. Gotcha.
It could happen today in any American church, synagogue, mosque, Hindu temple, classroom, public square, community center, movie theater, hospital, country concert or crowded workplace. All the the shooter needs is those weapons and a trapped congregation of people. It has already happened many times, Las Vegas so far topping the list with 58 killed and nearly 500 wounded.
And yet, when you look at the thousands of times when groups of people gather together, and nothing happens, you see that despite the headlines, these are still rare events.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything, but it does mean that guns aren’t the problem.
But there is no need to ban any gun. Guns were common in America long before the 1776 Revolution and will remain so.
Something we can agree on.
What we must ban instead are the huge cartridge magazines that make mass murder possible. It shouldn’t be hard, since our hunters (including me) already operate under a federal law forbidding shotguns that can hold more than three shells. Feeling such compassion for ducks and geese, we should also do that for men and women and children: But we don’t.
First, the law forbids shotguns with more than three shells for hunting. There are plenty of shotguns out there that hold more than that — tons of them. I’ve got one myself, modified by pulling out a simple wooden dowel.
Second, the law has nothing to do with compassion. There’s some who argue that the limit has to do with protecting makers of single- and double-barrel shotguns. Others say it’s because of game management. There’s probably a bit of both in that law.
But it’s not about compassion by any stretch.
I promise you, if ducks and geese were to start threatening human lives and we needed to respond to defend ourselves, that limit would disappear in a heartbeat. That’s because hunting and self-defense are different things with different requirements. You can’t pretend they’re related, even if both use firearms.
That’s because during the 1970s, the good old historic National Rifle Association underwent a tragic personality change, pushing it into paranoia. It then managed, with the Supreme Court’s help, to twist the meaning of the Second Amendment: 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 National Rifle Association is “paranoid,” says the guy who got heart palpitations at a Christmas concert.
And no, the NRA didn’t twist anything, Mr. Hammer. You and your kind are doing all the twisting.
I have been part of that well-regulated militia, in 1952 as member of a college ROTC rifle team, in 1955-’56 as an Oklahoma National Guardsman; in 1956-58 as a U.S. Army soldier qualified as sharpshooter on the M-1 Garand rifle, with a final two years as a U. S. Army Reservist in Kansas City.
So your involvement in an organization that didn’t exist at the time of the Second Amendment’s writing–the National Guard–is precisely what the Founding Fathers were talking about?
My service is not what the NRA means by “militia.” Their definition drops the “well-regulated” part. It includes pretty much anybody with a gun, including any half-wit with a grudge, any drunken wife beater whose woman has locked him out, any religious fanatic ashamed of his sins, any life failure who wants to die and get even by taking a lot of people with him. It includes “patriots” eager to protect us from “government tyranny.”
You’re right, Mr. Hammer, that’s not what the NRA–or a lot of us, for that matter–mean.
What you’re missing is that the phrase “well-regulated” didn’t mean managed by the government. It meant a properly functioning militia. There are a lot of examples of the usage of that phrase at the time which make that meaning very, very clear.
At the time, the militia was just that, for better or worse. It was every able-bodied man between certain ages who could be called upon in time of need. That also meant some mean people of questionable character.
Since then, we’ve done what we can to disarm those of questionable character. Felons can’t legally purchase guns. Wife-beaters who have been convicted of it can’t either. More, though, the NRA isn’t fighting that.
As for scare quotes around “patriots,” I hate to break it to you, Mr. Hammer, but that’s precisely who our Founding Fathers wanted armed. They didn’t trust the government. Their writings prove they wanted We the People to be able to rise up if needed. To throw off the yoke of tyranny if the government lost its way.
The fact that you don’t know that, that you can’t see that, is pretty telling. Maybe you should go back to college and study a bit more?
This means they must arm themselves to fight battles against our real well-regulated militia: the police, the National Guard, the U.S. Army and Air Force and Navy and Marines. That’s why today the NRA demands huge cartridge magazines and tomorrow will want rocket-propelled grenades. Their “militia” includes any paranoid, self-dramatizing zealot who, like one NRA president, raised a simple hunting rifle high above his head and proclaimed:
Note the word “real” before “well-regulated militia,” as if our standing military–something the Founding Fathers were also distrustful of, actually–somehow means we don’t need guns.
Again and again, Hammer keeps trying to paint the NRA as paranoid, but he forgets that he was the one who was freaking out over the mere possibility of a mass shooting, despite how rare they are.
Further, no one at the NRA is calling for armed revolt. They didn’t call for them when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House, and they’re not now. That’s because being concerned that a thing might be needed isn’t nearly the same as being convinced it’s going to happen right now.
We preserve our Second Amendment rights so that they’re there if and when we need them, but it doesn’t mean we think we’re going to need them next week, necessarily.
Oh, some do. Some don’t. So what?
At least we’re not freaking out over an event only slightly more likely to happen to you than being hit by lightning while winning an Academy Award.
“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
Nobody wants to take away his damn gun, or any gun like it. Shotguns, rifles, pistols have always, will always, be legal in America. We need to keep them. Except for use in a true well-regulated militia, we do not need assault rifles with 100-round magazines.
Sure. No one wants to take our guns.
Mr. Hammer, who are you trying to fool? So far, you’ve only succeeded in deluding yourself.
You may not want to take away anyone’s guns, but you’re far from the voice of your people by any stretch. Further, I don’t trust you not to decide later that maybe taking guns away is the only thing that will do any good.
You, Mr. Hammer, are focused on magazines, but we had a magazine ban from 1994-2004. Guess what changed? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Restricting magazines accomplished nothing. But we’re supposed to try it again?
“No honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun,” William B. Ruger told Tom Brokaw of NBC News in 1992.
Ruger, who died in 2002, founded the Sturm & Ruger arms company. In a later letter to Congress, Ruger asked that body to ban all large-capacity magazines. Americans should keep all the guns they own. But let the nation buy back at taxpayer cost every large-capacity magazine, providing free of charge one 10-round replacement. Just one reloadable magazine is enough.
Ruger was full of it when he said that in 1992.
But I’ll counter his claim–presented without any supporting evidence, mind you–by pointing out that you can give a law-abiding citizen the most lethal weapon imaginable, and no one will die from it, but the criminally minded individual will use a rock to murder if that’s all they can get.
If you, Mr. Hammer, don’t want more than ten rounds, so be it. But the only way I won’t be standing up to people like you is if I’m dead in the dirt.