Gun Violence, Mass Shootings, and the AR-15
Can we haz some truth, please?
Knowledge is power. I think if there is one thing we have learned from the last couple of election cycles is that making decisions without knowing all the facts makes us pawns.
The latest shooting tragedies have given way to much more disinformation about guns, gun owners, and the types of guns used to commit such atrocities. This disinformation comes from both sides. Let’s be honest about this for a moment: If your position cannot stand up to scrutiny, it is unethical and disingenuous to continue perpetuating it. We cannot expect either side to agree on anything using propaganda, redefinition of terms, and outright lies to support our position. Can we agree on this? If we can’t, we are doomed.
Let’s talk about the NRA since some folks don’t seem to understand it. The NRA gets its money from its members, just like AARP is financed by theirs. What does the ACLU do? Let’s look to their website and get it straight from the horse’s mouth: “The mission of the ACLU is to assure that the Bill of Rights — amendments to the Constitution that guard against unwarranted governmental control.” This is what they say; however, their assurance of preventing government over-reach is a little sketchy when it comes to the Second Amendment.
All three organizations are special interest groups. One represents gun hobbyists, the other retirees, and the third, the rights outlined by the Bill of Rights.
Without member support in the form of funding, none of these organizations could get anything done. So can we put away the myth that the NRA is a collection of five angry, heartless white guys that work for the gun industry? At least for now?
The NRA was first chartered in 1871 when it became clear to the Union army that many soldiers under their command could not handle their guns safely nor hit the broad side of a barn. Back then, its stated mission was to train better riflemen.
In the early ’30s, NRA President Karl Frederick testified in Congress in support of gun-control measures THEY had lobbied for, such as permit requirements, stiffer sentences for crimes committed with guns, prohibiting non-citizens from obtaining firearms, and even waiting periods. In other words, the reason we have background checks, laws against automatic weapons, and other things we take for granted in the world of firearms today are primarily due to the NRA.
They once taught school gun safety classes and have a gun safety program for kids (https://eddieeagle.nra.org/about/), even today. Local NRA chapters used to invite boy scout troops to shooting ranges, teach competitive shooting, award prices, etc…
So we can see that once upon a time, the NRA used to be an organization that provided a public good outside its mandate to support gun hobbyists. The defense of the 2nd Amendment did not even become an issue for the NRA until its members felt it was being threatened.
The NRA, and gun owners, in general, have made most of the concessions in the fight between gun owners and people that wish to regulate them out of existence.
Let me make something obvious. I’m not defending the NRA. I am not a fan. But this issue has the potential to change our country: our culture. And trust me when I say we need to change. Especially our culture. This is about information free of propaganda and news-speak. More on that in a minute.
Once upon a time, gun owners were reasonable, but so were the gun control folks. I believe that the expansion of the Brady Bill marked the NRA’s kneejerk reaction and felt they had to act politically as the gun control lobby was.
Historically, today’s gun control lobby hasn’t been interested in negotiating or making concessions. They only make demands, then try to use the courts and government to impose their wishes on the rest of the country. That’s when the NRA, and many of its members, became militant about preserving their rights. That is when they became a political organization.
As I have said, I don’t love the NRA, nor am I a member. But to put the entire blame on the NRA for the tragedies perpetrated on the lives of innocents is a simple manipulation trick, and I don’t want to be manipulated.
It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. — George Orwell
So much news is dedicated to the twisting of terms, then redefining those terms to suit their political agenda. This also helped change NRA from an educational organization to a political one.
Newspeak can make something horrible seem great. It can make something great seem horrible, depending on the desired outcome.
Let’s deflate one of these myths once and for all. The AR-15 is not an automatic weapon, a weapon of war, a machine gun, or any other Boogeyman terminology that the media uses to scare others into voting in a particular direction. It is a semi-automatic rifle. That’s it.
The first semi-automatic rifle was made in 1907 and could be purchased from the newspaper, a magazine, or Sears for just a few dollars. It was called the Winchester model 1907. If you bought it in a magazine, it was delivered by post. As in USPS. No background check, no ID requirements. Nothing.
The 1907 is a semi-automatic, high-powered center-fire rifle with a detachable magazine, just like the AR15. That’s 112 years ago for the mathematically challenged.
About 400,000 semi-automatic rifles were produced before WW2. Civilians had hundreds of thousands of these for over 40 years before the Armed Forces would start replacing their old-style bolt-action rifles. The semi-automatic rifle was not a weapon of war. The government MADE IT a weapon of war 40 years after civilians had them and used them without issue.
The 1907 fired just as fast as an AR15 or AK47, and the bullet (.351 Winchester) was larger than those fired by today’s more modern-looking black rifles.
The ONLY functional difference between the 1907 and a hated and much-feared AR-15 is the modern black plastic stock. Full stop. The technology upon which the AR-15 was built is 110 years old. It isn’t new in any way. Three generations of Americans have owned these rifles without mass shootings or crime waves.
This is another term that is part of the media’s news-speak. Let’s check where the media and politicians get the data for these mass shootings. According to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) these are the numbers per year for the last five years:
If these numbers seem inflated to you, you might be surprised to know they are correct. But the psychological manipulation in how these numbers are used occurs with the definition of “mass shooting” itself. The criteria for the GVA is that four or more people must have been injured or killed. Before anyone gets their blood pressure up, please understand that I am not implying that a small number of deaths are acceptable. ANY death that occurs at the hands of another is tragic. But I think we ought to consider how hearing the term “mass shooting” affects us emotionally, and I think we should ascertain whether or not this emotional manipulation is by design.
The AR-15 and Mass Shootings
So how many of these hundreds of mass shootings have involved an AR-15? According to Statistica Research Department, between 1985 and 2021, the AR15 was used in 49 mass shootings. A number much lower than the media and the politicians seem to imply when they talk about gun bans and “weapons of wars.”
So what do these facts say? What does it all mean?
It means that fixing the problem of violence in America is much more complex and expensive to address, so they are reaching for a band-aid. It’s time we got honest about this, for everyone’s sake.
The recent shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, occurred because the shooter was in chronic pain after back surgery. He wrote that he did not want to live in pain for the rest of his life. Does that justify the shooting? Absolutely not; this point needs to be made so I can explain why gun regulations work in other countries but won’t work here.
Pain is a horrible thing, and recently our government began denying long-term chronic pain suffers their opiate medication because it’s addictive. The result has been many suicides by people who simply did not want to live with that pain, and now the government is forcing them to. They have worsened the problem because much of the increasing opiate overdoses can be attributed to desperate patients who are self-medicating with street drugs, often laced with fentanyl. Affordable mental heal assistance is non-existent. A friend of mine waited nine months to see someone about his anxiety. Psychiatrists and counselors are exhausted.
It seems evident that the gun problem is cultural. When it comes to our youth, there’s not much of a future outside of wage slavery and perpetual debt. My daughter is a medical care provider and has given up trying to buy a house. She’s going to be paying for her car for 20 years. This generation isn’t having children because they have the intelligence to understand that bringing a child into the future we are destined for would be cruel. Let’s not forget the environmental disaster that awaits us all.
The job prospects suck. We’re not keeping up with inflation, and for the first time in history, the working class is facing the possibility of homelessness. As already mentioned, medical care in the US was designed to only serve those who can afford it. Housing. Food shortages. Lack of education. We could go on and on. We need to address those things, and the shootings will stop. But the people in charge (which should be you and me, but that’s a fight for another day) seem to prefer the shooting to continue than deal with the apparent cause because those things cost money, and the people who have bought them wouldn’t like it. So I guess there really is a price for human life. Apparently, once it’s out of the womb, it isn’t so special anymore? To be honest, it feels like some don’t want the shooting to stop. Or at least would focus on the gun rather than the reason for the shootings.
How do other countries manage violence?
Australia issues firearms licenses for hunting, sport shooting, pest control, collecting, and for farmers and farm workers over the age of 18 years. It allows the use of firearms for education and in sports or target shooting competitions. Junior licenses in Victoria and New South Wales are available from 12 years of age. In Queensland, an 11-year-old can enjoy one of these licenses.
People or companies selling, buying, or trading firearms and ammo can only do so with a firearm dealer’s license. They have their own “red-flag laws.” Licenses are prohibited for convicted offenders and those with a history of mental illness.
If this sounds much like the laws in the US, it is because they are very similar. And despite the similarities, gun control activists praise Australia for their gun laws while suggesting we should have similar laws… even though we do.
So how do gun-permissive countries like Australia, Switzerland, and other gun-friendly countries deal with the issue?
Countries like Australia and Switzerland pay a living wage and offer everyone a robust universal healthcare system, much more maternity time off, affordable education, and an outstanding work-life balance. They are actively seeking solutions for issues like global warming. They actually punish criminals, which is relevant because, in the US, citizens have an overall impression that one gets the justice they can afford. Justice is supposed to be even-handed, but our representatives tend to care more about the living they make taking money from big oil and the insurance lobbies than they do their constituents.
During the financial crisis, Iceland convicted 25 bankers for their part. Spain jailed 11 bankers and loan officers. Ireland 7, but the US only 1.
In conclusion, the problem is violence. Solving it is going to mean a change in our values. A restructuring and reprioritizing of our ethos. It will require our representatives and anyone else who really cares to eat crow and admit we’ve been wrong about a lot of things. The question is whether or not our collective ego and those that benefit from the system the way it is today will permit it.
About the author
Gerald Enrique del Campo is a poet, Jungian, philosopher, hermetic magician, shaman, mythologist, author, musician, mead maker, herbalist, foodie, motorcyclist and, all around nice guy.