I am changing my normal blog schedule to talk about what is on the minds of this country and beyond: the school shooting in Uvalde. This is truly a horrific occurrence, that happens too often in the United States. No parent should have to be afraid of their child being murdered at school by a gunman. My heart goes out to the 19 families that lost their babies, and the 2 families that lost their mother.
Listening to the Texas governor Gregg Abbott’s remarks, and the NRA spokesman interview with the BBC, a familiar pro gun refrain is being spit out. That this is a sick individual, and guns are not to blame. That a person intent on mass murder will carry it out even if we passed gun control measures, so it is no good to pass any laws restricting guns.
I have noticed that even among the Republicans proclaiming this was a mental health issue, none of them have introduced legislation or are advocating policies to improve access to mental health care and make our system easier to navigate. The state of mental health care is another conversation, but there are multiple relatively simple reforms that would improve things. Instead, I want to unpack these two assertions—that it is purely the individual to blame, and that any rules we place will simply be ignored.
A gun is a machine built with one purpose, and one purpose only—to kill. Some are built to kill animals, some are built to kill people, and some are built to kill large numbers of people. Since the founding of the United States, when the second amendment was written, guns have only gotten more efficient at killing and easier to use.
An assault rifle is a weapon of war. People don’t use assault rifles to hunt, in home defense, or to compete in shooting competitions. There is most certainly no use for a 1,000 round magazine in any of those lawful examples of gun use.
Yes, you can kill with other weapons, like knives or gas. But a knife takes skill to be efficiently lethal with. Knives also have practical purposes other than killing human beings. I practiced Korean Sword and Taekwondo many years ago, and we went over knife defense. You can block a knife with a cane or umbrella, move out of the attack and run or counter. Dodging bullets is much harder than dodging a knife attack. A gun does not require much knowledge of human anatomy to be lethal. An assault rifle can shoot someone before they are in range to make a counterattack. Realistically, how many people can someone with a knife attack before another can take them down? In the London Bridge knife attack, 5 people were stabbed, and 2 died. Compare this to 19 dead children, and 2 dead teachers.
Another weapon often cited is gas, that was used by the Nazis. I have done some research into WWII for a character’s backstory. Unfortunately I am going to have to get graphic with this example. Scroll down below the picture of flowers if you don’t want to read it.
The Nazis conducted a series of experiments to find the most efficient way to kill large numbers of people. In Eastern Europe, they started by rounding up Jewish men, forcing them to kneel before a pit, shooting them in the head, then throwing them in. Repeat.
This method was dubbed to be inefficient, which was when they started looking at gas chambers. These were first tested on Russian POW and disabled children. The first attempts victims were fully clothed, so when the gas was released they pulled their clothes over their nose and mouths. That is why the shower story was concocted. The brutal Nazi killing machine was not just the gas chamber—it was the environment and subterfuge leading up to the gas chamber, so people didn’t realize they were being lead to their doom.
Despite having perfect killing conditions— a large group of people, an enclosed space people could not escape so they were forced to breath the gas, and anything they could use to cover their nose and mouth removed, it took up to 20 minutes for everyone in the barricaded room to die.
Today, where could someone release poison gas under those same conditions? Better yet, where would someone purchase poison gas? How do you make it? How could someone transport and release it without harming themselves, or rousing suspicion?
Let us say a shooter was able to get a gun, just not an assault rifle or a high capacity magazine. They would need to take a pause while reloading, giving potential victims a chance to flee, or stalling for help to arrive. They also would be firing one bullet at a time, and not a spray of bullets.
It is true someone intent on mass murder has already violated the law, and may be willing to violate more laws. But we don’t outlaw something believing it will then disappear. We outlaw something to make it harder to get. While the shooter may ignore the law, those selling the guns hopefully won’t if there is a serious enough penalty. What outlawing does is shut off the legal and often easiest way of getting something. While there may be other ways these are more difficult, more expensive, and riskier.
To say “restricting guns won’t change anything, a motivated shooter will just find a gun anyway” is like saying “Don’t lock your car, a motivated thief will just steal it if it is locked or not.” Saying “We should not restrict assault rifles because even if it may stop some shootings, it won’t stop them all” is like saying “We shouldn’t wear seat belts because they only save some lives, but not all.”
Some is still lives that are saved. Yes, it is terrible that as a country debating action we can take to lessen the casualties from a mass shooting, or lessening the number of mass shootings is controversial. We aren’t even at the point where we can talk about stopping them.
But that is where we are at today. By the gods and ancestors, that is not going to be the place we stay if we decide to take action. Do something to bring change, even if that change is small. One less dead in a school shooting is one more child that is able to go home.