November 7, 2017 – When is the “right time?”
On November 5, 26 people were shot and killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and dozens more have been hospitalized. It is the worst mass murder in a church in American history. Like the Las Vegas massacre last month, the primary weapon used was an assault-style rifle, an AR-15, which is based on the military’s M-16. There is no, no reason for such weapons to be sold to the general public.
In fact, it is easier to buy a firearm in most states than it is to vote. Devin Patrick Kelley, the alleged shooter in Sutherland Springs, bought his guns legally because the United States Air Force forgot to notify the national registry of his domestic violence conviction.
As a reminder, I sold firearms to the general public and am a gun owner. Here in Missouri, all one has to do is to provide proof of residency and pass the federal background check to by a firearm. That proof of residency could include a tax bill from the city, a car registration, a state issued or military ID, or a driver’s license, as long as the information comes from a government agency. To vote in the Show-Me state, one must produce a picture ID issued by the state of Missouri.
Everytown for Gun Safety conducted a survey of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016. One of their conclusions concerns the ease of buying a firearm, even by persons who should not legally own one. They wrote:
“In the absence of laws that close the unlicensed sale loophole, criminals and other prohibited people can easily avoid background checks simply by buying guns from unlicensed sellers—including strangers they meet online.”
The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle firing a .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO ammunition. If the rifle were configured as a hunting rifle, it would fall somewhere in the middle of the caliber range. Configured as a military look-a-like, it is designed to kill.
USA Today asked a very important question: Why is the AR-15 style rifle the weapon of choice in mass shootings? It reports that over 3.5 million versions of the AR-15 were manufactured in 2015 alone, with over 8 million owned by Americans today. It is a simple rifle to shoot and maintain, and has a large collection of aftermarket parts available, including the bumper stock which converts the rifle from semi-automatic to virtually full automatic.
There is a following for the ARs as a “sport rifles,” including National Rifle Association competitions, as there are for all firearms. The rifle is highly accurate and can shoot as fast as one can pull the trigger.
President Trump and others have said that the “cure” is a better mental health system, yet mental health is not, not the “cause’ of most shootings.
Business Insider reports that the “American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that people with severe mental illness commit about one out of every 20 violent crimes.” They continued: “Only 1% of discharged psychiatric patients commit violence against strangers using a gun.” That is still too many.
“A law … was enacted in 2016, when President Obama signed a bill designed to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. President Trump repealed that law earlier this year.”
Forensic psychiatrist Liza Gold told BI that it is hard to make generalizations concerning mass shooter because they are “still relatively rare.” But that may not be the case.
If one is to use the definition of 4 or more individuals are shot, Mass Shooting Tracker counted almost 380 such incidents in 2017 from January 1 until the November 5 massacre in Sutherland Springs.
If one is to use the FBI’s definition of 4 or more killed, there were only 4 such incidents between October 1 and November 5. It is a very deceptive number.
The NRA is a large and powerful lobbying group; however, now is the time to talk seriously about sensible gun control without the threat of the NRA not giving money to the politicians, political parties and political action committees; $13 million since 1998. It is time to vote the pro-gun politicians out of office.
The president, speaking during his stop in Japan, said this is not time to discuss gun control but time to pray for the victims of gun violence. When is the right time, Mr. President? Prayer will not stop the next mass shooting. Prayer will not bring back the lives of those killed. Prayer will not cure this uniquely American ailment.
We need to fight organizations like the NRA to reinstate the assault weapons ban and to tighten the gun show loopholes currently allowing purchases without a background check and instituting a universal background check.
The time is now, Mr. President, not tomorrow.