By Alex Solari, Opinions and Editorials Editor
On November 1, our country experienced another horrific shooting, which took place outside of San Antonio, Texas, and at least 26 people were killed.
There are so many different facets of this horrible story to cover, from the shooter’s history of mental illness, to his time with the Air Force.
However, I want to focus on the type of gun he used during this attack, which is an AR-15 style rifle.
So what exactly is an AR-15 style rifle? In the simplest of terms, it’s essentially a modern sporting rifle, and according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, it is not an assault rifle at all, and it has only been stigmatized and viewed in that way. But, if it’s only viewed as an assault rifle, and isn’t actually one, then why has an AR-15 style gun been used during the Texas, Las Vegas, Pulse, Sandy Hook, and San Bernandino shootings? I don’t want this to be the stereotypical “gun control” article. People have vastly different views on guns, and to be completely transparent,
I am not particularly knowledgeable on guns, and I don’t know anyone close to me who owns one.
I understand that people want to protect themselves, which is valid and completely understandable. But, the fact that a human being has the ability to kill 26 people, and in the case of the Las Vegas shooting, 59 people, in such a short period of time, terrifies me.
My problem is the types of guns that are available to the public, not the fact that guns are available at all. Let’s talk about the reasons people want guns. The two most common reasons are for protection and for recreation, which includes hunting and shooting. According to Slate, an AR- 15 style rifle is not particularly useful for protection or recreation.
An article from the website says, “Though it can be used for hunting, the AR-15 isn’t really a hunting rifle. Its standard .223 caliber ammunition doesn’t offer much stopping power for anything other than small game.” The article goes on to talk about its use for protection, and says, “The AR-15 is a long gun, and can be tough to maneuver in tight quarters. When you shoot it, it’ll overpenetrate—sending bullets through the walls of your house and possibly into the walls of your neighbor’s house…”
If this weapon happened to be the absolute best for protection and recreation, maybe it’d be acceptable for ordinary citizens to have access to, but it’s simply not.
The NRA has even named the AR-15 “the most popular rifle in America,” and estimates that Americans own over 8 million of them, according to USA Today. Does that scare anyone else?
According to laws.com, the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 banned the manufacturing and importing of the weapon, but the ban was lifted in 2004.
Obviously, this weapon was banned for a reason. The website even refers to the weapon as a “military rifle.”
So tell me, why the hell are ordinary citizens, who possibly aren’t getting a background check, allowed to own these incredibly dangerous military guns? And you may ask, since when are people not getting background checked?
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “experts estimate that 40% of gun sales occur in ‘no questions asked’ transactions that often take place over the Internet or at gun shows where, in most states, background checks are not required.” And with the case of the Texas shooting, the shooter had a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force, and the Air Force “forgot” to transfer this over to the law enforcement database, according to CNN. Are you kidding me?
That’s not to say that background checks aren’t useful, though. According to the Brady Campaign, “Since 1994, the [Brady Bill] has blocked more than 3 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers including felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous individuals.” The Brady Bill has helped us greatly in the country, but it’s not enough.
Maybe if background checks were always mandatory, and records were always up to date, this weapon would be safe enough, but this isn’t the reality for our country, unfortunately.
I’m not saying that banning an AR-15 style rifle will stop mass shootings.
If a shooter wants to, they can use nearly any kind of gun in this situation. And as many argue, people will illegally obtain guns if they need to.
However, in both the Texas and Las Vegas shootings, the shooters obtained their weapons legally, so there is a chance that if AR-15 style guns were banned that the attack wouldn’t happen, or, at least, not as many people would have been killed.
I believe that the safety of innocent citizens is more important than a person’s right to own such a powerful weapon, and we must take steps to ban the AR-15 due to our country’s consistent mass shootings.