Muftic: Evolving thoughts on gun control
The Las Vegas massacre is another sad opportunity to refocus the national debate about gun control. I am beginning to re-evaluate my thinking on regulating assault weapons. At minimum, we need a serious national and Congressional discussion.
I live in a rural county where every kid on a ranch or the offspring of a hunter can shoot. My grandfather in the eastern plains of Colorado taught me how to shoot a tin can with a shotgun when I was youngster. Big game hunting is big business here. Sometimes weapons are needed for defense of human life or livestock or a pet threatened by a predatory beast, a coyote, a mountain lion. I know gun collectors and in my family I have gun club sportsmen NRA members.
I get all of that.
What I do not get is why semi automatic and automatic assault weapons are needed for any of these purposes.
Semi-automatic weapons converted to nearly automatic machine guns and equipped with large clips have one purpose: to kill many people without a shooter needing even minimal aiming or rapid fire skills, or pause to reload. This enables one person to cause more carnage than even using the already deadly unmodified semi-automatics.
With Las Vegas reports, we have learned more about how easily semi-automatics can be converted to automatics and to skirt federal regulations with bump stocks and digital methods readily and legally available.
You can take it to the bank that the next mass killer now knows how to modify and use their weapons to do as much damage as possible. There seems to be some bipartisan and even NRA agreement however that bump stocks sales need to be curtailed.
Finding killers’ motivation to learn what we can do to detect or stop a wannabe mass killer in advance is a worthy goal. However, the enabler common to single gunman mass killers regardless of motivation is an assault weapon.
If there is to be a debate inspired by Las Vegas and an accumulated list of other such tragedies where assault weapons were used, reducing access to them and means of modification need to be a part of it.
An NRA-supported bill to make silencers legal was temporarily tabled by Speaker Paul Ryan as it became obvious the rat-a-tat noise was the only tip off that the Vegas shooter was not fireworks, alerting more to take cover and reducing potential casualties.
Another response from gun rights advocates is that their sole acceptable measure to stop mass killings is to better fund mental health services.
The GOP in control of Washington since January already tried to undermine access to mental health services. The attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare overlooked the fact that insurance coverage of mental health was one of the benefits they tried to remove.
In February, Donald Trump signed an executive order reversing an Obama-era attempt to better identify those with mental health problems. Trump killed that regulation that would have required the Social Security Administration to submit records of the mentally disabled to the FBI database as part of the background check that would deny those the ability to buy guns. In addition, the NRA lobbying has effectively scotched uniform background check legislation even though 74 percent of NRA members favor them.
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