What Happens In Las Vegas

I learned to shoot a BB gun before I ever started school. I was five years old.

My grandpa was a hunter and he taught my cousins and me to shoot crows in the backyard and the adjacent field behind their house. Papa taught us how to pour the BBs in, how to aim and shoot, but most importantly, he taught us to point the barrel at the ground when we weren’t shooting, and to never, ever point it at a person. We were taught that it wasn’t a toy. And we weren’t allowed to touch it unless he was with us.

deer headMounted deer heads, shot by my grandfather, have always hung above the fireplace in my parents’ home. And the blonde grizzly bearskin that covered one wall in the study, one of several Papa shot in Arizona back in the 1950s, before grizzlies were listed as endangered species, is about to go up on the wall at my house now.

Those trophies are a part of my heritage. I remember hearing family stories about their hunting trips from my grandfather and my mom, and I’m sure that if my Papa’s health had held up and he had lived longer, he would’ve taken me hunting, just like he did my mom and her siblings.

The guns we would’ve used aren’t anything like what the guy used in Las Vegas. Or Orlando. Or Sandy Hook. So putting limits on what kind of gun you could purchase wouldn’t eliminate the sport of hunting.

But even if it did…

We’ve tried placing regulations on gun ownership and requiring permits and licenses to carry and use them. It’s just that those regulations don’t work, for a variety of reasons,  and then people who have no business owning any type of gun end up with an arsenal.

And not the kind of guns you use to shoot a deer. If you used the same kind of guns the guy in Las Vegas used for deer hunting, you wouldn’t have anything left to mount. Or eat.

Semi-automatic. Automatic. Military weaponry. Guns used only in war.

Nobody needs to be able to purchase the kind of weaponry that guy had in his possession.

But even if you see that as limiting my rights to own a gun – of any kind – well, I’d be willing to give up that right. That’s what we do in a civil society.

And I think my Papa would be okay with that, too.

las vegas shooting


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Todd Mitchell says:

    Sally, I’m going to try to be sensitive to this situation because what has happened is incredibly painful and tragic, so understand it is not my intention to be belligerent or cruel in any way. This is also going to be rather lengthy, but this is a very complex issue so I hope you’ll forgive me. Your discussion makes a few very common mistakes when talking about both the second amendment and firearms in general. You can’t take your experience shooting BB guns in the back yard and your grandfather’s deer hunting hobby and apply it to the second amendment. It simply doesn’t fit. The second amendment is in place for the citizens of this nation to be able to protect themselves against their own government. I often hear the argument that when the second amendment was written the guns available were muskets, not the massive firepower we have available today. And while that’s true, it afforded the citizens of this nation the exact same weaponry to defend themselves against their own government that the government would use against them. That is the main idea behind the amendment. It doesn’t afford anyone the right to go hunting. It attempts to level the playing field if the government of this nation becomes so corrupt that its citizens are required to take up arms against it. That’s the right it guarantees.
    To Paul Riddle’s point above, the automobile analogy is an interesting one to use because vastly more people die in automobiles every year than from firearms. And while it’s true that there are regulations in place to make our roadways safe, such as speed limits, every car you can purchase on the market today has the ability to exceed those limits. In fact every automobile you can purchase in this country has the ability in and of itself to kill the occupants of the vehicle and potentially kill people outside the vehicle. We don’t regulate cars to not be able to exceed the speed limit do we? Many vehicles can go over 150 mph and thousands of people are killed every single day as a result of the use of motor vehicles. Often innocent people are killed by drivers illegally misusing their vehicles. We punish people who criminally misuse a vehicle and cause damage to others. That makes sense to us, but with guns we punish the law abiding citizens instead.
    Now, to your point about firepower itself. You say people don’t hunt with the kinds of guns used in these shootings because there would be nothing left of the animal. Over the last ten years, the number one selling hunting rifles have been AR platform rifles. I personally am an avid hunter like your grandfather was. I hunt with exactly the same kind of rifle as one the shooter had with him. When I was 8 years old I shot my first deer with a 30-06 Remington bolt action deer rifle. I was just a little guy, and the gun knocked me all the way to the ground when I shot it. It seriously hurt, and I lost control of the weapon because it was very difficult to manage the recoil. Last year, my 8 year old son shot his first deer with my AR-15. He shot a 30 caliber bullet, same caliber as my 30-06 and he was able to manage the weapon safely all by himself and make a clean shot on the deer to hit exactly where he was aiming. These guns do not destroy game as you claim. They are very effective as hunting weapons. In fact, when your grandfather hunted he likely shot a .270 Remington, a 30-06, or a 30/30 rifle. You can take those three calibers and probably accurately guess the rifle used to shoot 90% of the deer shot before 1990. The Vegas shooter’s primary weapon was a 7.62X39 semiautomatic rifle. That rifle shoots almost exactly the same bullet as a 30-06. The bullets shot through an AR-15 are generally much smaller than either of those. The bullets these guns shoot are nothing new or unique to the AR platform. Many of the calibers used in semi-automatic rifles were previously used in bolt action platforms like your grandfather likely shot. The rate of fire is different than a bolt action deer rifle, but these guns don’t shoot massive bullets that destroy game animals. That simply isn’t true.
    I’m not saying there doesn’t need to be a conversation about guns in this country, but it needs to come from a position of knowledge not one of ignorance. The second amendment is very important and it becomes increasingly useless every time we limit the weapons that law abiding American citizens can use to exercise that right. We don’t punish law abiding citizens because criminals break the law in this country. We don’t even discuss it with any dangerous objects except guns. Vastly more people are killed by alcohol than guns every year, and while we regulate when and where alcohol can be sold and limit the ages to whom it can be sold, I think we all agree that Prohibition was a very bad idea. Tobacco is a product that is legal in this country that we all know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be harmful to everyone who uses it and harmful to others who come in contact with its use. It kills more people every year than guns. We regulate the age at which it can be purchased and we restrict where it can be consumed to protect others from second hand smoke, but we do not take away the rights of Americans to use it. Thousands of Americans are killed every day by motor vehicles and while we make laws restricting at what age people can drive, and we make traffic laws determining how automobiles should be used, those laws are broken and thousands are killed every day because of it. But we don’t take away the rights of law abiding drivers just because people break the law with their vehicles. And here’s the key point. Your rights to drive a car or have a drink or smoke a cigarette are not guaranteed by the constitution. The one that is guaranteed by the constitution should be the one we fight for most. It is one of the important pillars of our system of government that sets us apart from all other countries in this world. It allows us to protect ourselves without having to depend on our government to do so. If it were as simple as making laws, then simply outlawing murder should do it. But it doesn’t. Evil exists and can’t be avoided but we can’t handcuff good people in the hopes that we also limit the ability of evil people to possess dangerous things. That simply isn’t freedom.

    1. sallygary says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Todd. I agree that there’s much more to discuss to really get at the heart of the second amendment, and obviously by the brevity of the post, I wasn’t attempting to do that. First, because I’m not qualified! Although constitutional law was by far my favorite choice for courses in law school, I’m by no means a constitutional legal scholar. But secondly, I simply intended the piece as an “appetizer,” mostly to stir thinking around an obviously broader, and much deeper, subject than I could address here. Let’s be honest – our attention spans aren’t what they used to be, and we don’t read anything of the length required to intelligently respond to the questions posed here.

  2. Judy Funk says:

    The vast majority of domestic mass shootings in the US are not perpetrated by the government. If the 2nd amendment is a protection for the citizenry to be able to form a militia to protect against a run-a mock government, we cannot claim that in such instances. People being killed and injured by fellow citizens who can maximize firepower legally proves that the greater danger is from gun advocates/lobbyists. When we learn the motivation for this senseless act perhaps the citizenry will finally have a bipartisan coalition come together to put an end to this madness with sensible legislation and “regulation” that everyone deserves. Those who advocate for unbridled rights for gun ownership in many cases would rather regulate groups of our citizenry instead –
    quite ironic in a democracy.

  3. Paul Riddle says:

    Well said, Sally. I believe the current interpretation of the Second Amendment, which elevates an individual’s “right” to unlimited firepower over public safety, is totally wrong-headed. Americans are almost as passionate about their cars as they are about their guns, yet no one questions the need for traffic regulations and laws setting standards for drivers and the cars themselves. Our blind spot regarding guns is, literally, killing us.

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