I've seen the photos. I'm pretty sure you have, too: The Jihadists holding their AK-47s in a stance of defiance. Law enforcement personnel displaying the AK-47s used in the San Bernardino massacre. And others holding variants of the AR-15 in the aftermath of the massacres at Sandy Hook, Aurora, and the Chattanooga Armed Forces Recruiting Station.
There are also the photos of open carry proponents casually wearing assault-style rifles like fashion accessories in stores, restaurants, and public parks. Often scaring the shit out of the patrons by the mere sight of them.
And they are scary. I personally am more terrified of a "good guy with a gun" turning out to be not such a good guy than I am of a terrorist attack spurred by any cause. Radicalized homegrown Christian extremists are just as dangerous as radicalized Islamists. There's plenty of hatred, intolerance and guns to go around.
Aurora shooter James Holmes had an AR-15 and enough ammo to rock 'n roll 50-60 shots a minute. A bullet almost every single second.
The San Bernardino assassins had about 1,400 rounds at their disposal. So there's no doubting the life-taking scope of these weapons.
My question is will a ban on assault-style weapons and combat-style large capacity magazines help stop the plague of shootings that has infected our country? Yes. And also no.
My beautiful young niece Becca was murdered by a "good guy with a gun." But the thing is her killer didn't use an assault rifle. It was a .357 magnum pistol.
While assault weapons for civilians need to go, the bigger problem is highlighted by Becca's murder -- hand guns. In recent mass shootings only about 15 involved assault rifles.
That doesn't let assault rifles off the hook by any means. But according to FBI data about 70% of gun-related homicides were committed by someone using a handgun.
It also points out that those of us dedicated to reducing gun violence need to be realistic about what we we can achieve.
Probably top of our wish list is that the Second Amendment would just go away or be repealed -- a noble thought and goal. And a total waste of time. Article 5 of our Constitution spells it out clearly. You'd have a better chance of having pork declared kosher.
So - where does that leave us? Let's look at the Senate. It is extraordinary to me that members of Congress seem to value the contributions they get to vote "No" on bills that would tighten background checks and prevent people on the terrorist watch list from legally buying guns more than saving lives. Don't believe me? Check this out: the NRA spent 27 million dollars to help insure the Senate voted down new legislature that could do just that.
Let's not forget our patriots in the House of Representatives. Over the last few election cycles the NRA coffers were wide open funneling millions of dollars to candidates to help insure they'll vote keep any gun-sane legislation from happening and further the NRA's agenda. What is that agenda?
Josh Sugarman, executive director of the Violence Policy Center says, "Today's N.R.A. is, in reality, nothing more than a gun industry trade association masquerading as a shooting sports foundation. The organization's agenda is increasingly focused on one goal: selling more guns."
In 1928 Herbert Hoover's presidential campaign slogan was, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."
I think the NRA's slogan should be, "Gun for all, all for gun."
Back to handguns. There is some extraordinary technology out there to make handguns safer - so called smart guns. There are a variety of systems to ensure that only the registered own of that gun can operate it.
This technology could save so many lives. Kids won't be able to shoot each other by accident. A bad guy grabbing a cop's gun won't be to shoot the cop. It could seriously reduce the close to a quarter of a million guns stolen every single year. Again the NRA roadblock magically appears. Insert headscratch. So NRA, wanting unfettered access to firearms for our citizenry is fettering access to smart guns. Insert another head scratch.
For nearly a decade the Armatix iP1 smart gun has been available in Germany, more recently here in the States. But the NRA says no. And gun dealers have been intimidated by threats of smashed windows all the way to being shot for selling this gun. There's logic. Shoot the gun dealer for selling a gun.
Look at this way. The NRA insists guns don't kill people, people kill people. They're wrong. Know what also kills people? Congress sitting on its collective hands doing nothing to curb gun violence. And fatten their own wallets courtesy of the NRA.
We need to act locally. Keep our kids, schools, houses of worship, and playgrounds safe from the tyranny of the NRA. The politicians won't do it so we have to in the names of the victims of Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and all of the other gun violence horrors. The next bullet that flies out of a gun could have my name on it. Or yours. Or our kids'. Let's stop it before that trigger is pulled.