I’ve seen a plethora of misinformation, misunderstandings, obtuseness and overall stupidity over the past several months, but in the swells of the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas on October 1st (2017), it seems that personal feelings have interjected the same overabundance but on a much larger scale.
For a lot of people. the simple solution to attempt to avoid another ‘mass shooting’ is regulating or outlawing certain styles or types of firearms or even firearms themselves. But would this actually prevent another shooting in the future? If you are interested in an attempt to be as unbias as possible concerning this topic, feel free to read on.
Before I start diving into the ‘meat and potatoes’ of this conundrum, please allow me to cover a few things that have been bothering me for some time.
- Semi-automatics: For anyone that is not familiar with firearms, I would like to clarify to what a semi-automatic firearm is. A semi-automatic firearm, in layman’s terms, is a firearm that will only fire one round for every pull of the trigger and it will continue to cycle like this until the ammunition, typically stored in a magazine, has been expended. To be honest, unless a firearm is a muzzleloader, a pump action, a lever action or a single action firearm, it is generally a semi-automatic firearm.
- The “AR” designation in AR-15 does not stand for ‘automatic rifle’ or ‘assault rifle’. The “AR” in AR-15 stands for Armalite Rifle, the company that first produced that platform of rifle under the design of Eugene Stoner, chief engineer for the Armalite company.
- “Assault rifles” and AR-15s: Assult rifle is a term that I, personally, am not a fan of (I will cover that more in-depth later in this blog). AR-15s are not assault rifles and you cannot just go out and purchase an assault rifle at any corner gun shop or gun show. In modern ‘terms’, assault rifles are select fire firearms that are typically reserved for the military and in some cases, law enforcement. These firearms have the ability to fire in either semi-automatic/fully automatic, semi-automatic/three round burst, or even three round burst/fully automatic.
What I find truly ironic is that the misinformed or ‘fear mongering’ populous are continuing to utilize the term ‘assault rifle’ and not realize that the term was pushed into the lexicon by the Nazi party (yes, World War 2…that Nazi party) as a form of propaganda. The MP44, a select fire, intermediate cartridged rifle developed in 1942/1943 had its designation changed from MP44 (or Maschinenpistole 44) to Stg 44 or Sturmgewehr 44 because it sounded more menacing and dangerous (something that the Nazis did on a regular basis). For anyone not familiar with the German language, Sturmgewehr literally translates to “Storm Rifle”/”Assault Rifle”. Rumor is that Joseph Goebbels (Reich Minister of Propaganda) influenced the name change to Sturmgewehr 44 (or Assault Rifle 44) in order to help persuade Hitler into liking the MP44 rifle design.
- Ease of firearm purchasing: We have to be honest here; if people as a whole want to attempt to prevent mass shootings and other displays of systemic evil, we have to utilize facts in order to discuss potential solutions. In regards to this, people as a whole must understand that the most popular method of legally purchasing a firearm of any kind, not only requires several things but also, in turn, produces several things.
One common thing that I frequently hear is that “you only need a license to buy a firearm”. While this is technically true per se, it is grossly phrased in a manner to be deceptive. In most locations within the United States, you do have to present a form of state or government identification in order to prove your identity (you are who you say you are) prior to purchase. However, this is not the only task at hand to purchasing a firearm. You must also truthfully fill out the BATFE Form 4473 (firearms transaction record) and that information is run through NCIC (National Crime Information Center) to check if you are even legally permitted to purchase a firearm. Some firearms, accessories or instances may require additional steps before the purchaser is permitted to take the item(s), this includes waiting periods, if applicable.
Now that is done and over with, let’s get down to brass tacks.
What can we do in order to help prevent another display of evil and terror?
That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? What can we do, as a society, to help prevent future senseless killings? Is it amending the second amendment, banning firearms, psychological tests, interjecting additional laws, creating a firearm database, or broadening governmental surveillance?
In my opinion, there is not much that we can do to prevent these types of tragedies from happening again. It has been something that I’ve thought about for years but honestly didn’t set a firm root until September 11, 2001. I’ve attempted to ignore the fact that I’ve spent time in the military, that I’ve spent time in law enforcement, that I’ve studied and participated in counter-terrorism and that, obviously, I’ve been a gun owner. I’ve tried to think outside the box and factor the scenario from every angle that I can possibly think of. I’ve studied the laws of other nations, their economics, their people and their way of life. In the end, I have not been able to come up with a solution to this answer without completely violating the rights of the people, both firearm owners and those who want nothing to do with firearms. Allow me to explain.
Every theory dreamt up (in regards to battling evil people and the damage that they can do) has a tremendous drawback when it comes to the rights of people. There is always a trade-off when it comes to rights versus protection and it has always and will always be like that. Let’s discuss some of the ideas that I’ve come across over the years.
Buying Firearms even if they’re banned (either in whole or in part)
Dark Web: The Black Market meets Cyberspace
Not many people are aware of the bottomless cavern that comprises the Dark Web or the rabbit’s hole that comes with it. Years ago, the black market wasn’t exactly easy for ‘Joe the car salesman’ to interact with. Everything had to be done in person and therefore, you had to have ties with the underground network of criminals in order to get anywhere near it. It wasn’t exactly like you could put an Ad in the paper looking for the taboo and illegal items that you want to possess. Nowadays, it’s quite different. It’s truly not very difficult to find a way into the Dark Web and once you are there, many different illegal items are at your fingertips. You are eliminating the ‘face to face’ requirements of the typical Black Market, you are able to cover your tracks and obscure the digital fingerprint that you leave behind (if you know what you are doing), you are paying in a currency that is extremely difficult to trace and track, and generally, you are able to do this from the comfort of your own home.
Even the items available on the Dark Web are mind-boggling; illegal firearms from both here and abroad, drugs, sex slaves, underage prostitutes, chemical weapons, tanks, fighter jets, missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, stolen vehicles, counterfeit identification, counterfeit money, college degrees and transcripts, hacking services and the list goes on.
Why is this important? Adding additional laws or even modifying the Bill of Rights would only prevent people from obtaining firearms and/or accessories from a legal source (i.e. firearms vendor, gun shop, gun show, etc.), but at the same time, the same items (or worse) are available on the black market. In theory, we as a society put a legal ban on the AR-15 platform and the .223 cal./5.56mm cartridge, yet it is still available on the black market as is a fully automatic PKM machine gun from Pakistan, with ammunition.
The Cartels and Gangs
In addition to the Dark Web, let’s also not forget the Cartels of Central America and the existing gangs that populate the US. In the end, all of these entities rely on ‘supply and demand’ and they are more than eager to make money if there is a demand. The problem of trafficking firearms would be very similar to the problem that we currently have of illegal drugs.
Personally, I would also foresee the same type of violence and problems that existed during the time of prohibition. Don’t forget, Al Capone made an estimated $60 million from illegal alcohol sales during that time frame plus there was a large amount of blood spilled due to violence between rival gangs (i.e. the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre).
Central Database of firearms and their owners
A ‘database’ is problematic on multiple fronts. First, there is the fact that illegal firearms and the criminals possessing them would not be on this list. However, there are two things that are also an issue when it comes to a database; in the eyes of some, it can be a practical concern and it could also be a far-fetched one.
From the standpoint of information, information itself is not safe, no matter who the ‘governing’ agency/company is. Any information stored within a database is vulnerable to those who are able to initially obtain it and the ones willing to cash in on it. Data breaches have been occurring everywhere and at an alarming rate. Banks are being hacked, so are credit card companies, government agencies, and hell, even entertainment companies like Sony Pictures. Let’s take the past issues of all recent security breaches and then think about those security breaches being tied to firearms. Hackers could (and most likely, eventually would) have a ‘one-stop shop’ list containing the location, number, and type of firearms in addition to information about the owner of those weapons and possibly even how those firearms are secured. This type of information would be dangerous for even small-time criminals to get their hands on, let alone the large criminal organizations that are out there.
Even though I highly doubt that I’ll ever see it in my lifetime, we should also talk about the idea of a tyrannical government and systemic oppression. Our Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights in order to exclaim areas where the government could not oppress or control; after all, that’s one of the main reasons why the United States were founded…for freedom. Let’s theorize that, one day, people within the government attempt to push an oppressive system, or even the Fourth Reich. Why would you want the government to have an exact list of every potential problem/threat within their reach? Can we say Gestapo 2.0? Granted, yes it is worst case scenario, but still, it is not something that you can leave out or ignore.
Another irony that I am not understanding is this: for months, I’ve heard (from many different directions) about how Trump is the epitome of evil, how he should be impeached and forcefully removed from office, how he’s a Nazi and white supremacist sympathizer. I’ve seen more obtuse propaganda than previous Presidents concerning this and his inability to do anything right or correctly. Yet I’ve also seen a plethora of people, many of them the same people referring to Trump as a Nazi, saying that the government should have heavy control and regulation over firearms. I’ve also seen the same people say that the police and government (military) should be the only ones allowed to possess firearms. I am not sure how this works in any capacity. You were just saying how law enforcement should be disbanded or how they are too gun happy; how they are not fit to be in law enforcement but you are now saying that they are one of the few that should have guns? Trump is a Nazi, yet the government, which is presided by Trump, should have control over weaponry and remove it from the populous. I am sorry, but this point should be promptly thrown out of the window on the basis of sheer stupidity. Keep drinking the Jim Jones Kool-Aid I guess?
Also, re-read the last paragraph of the “Central Database of firearms and their owners” section.
Psychological Tests prior to purchase
On the face of it, the concept seems pretty straightforward; make sure that the person purchasing a firearm is not batshit crazy. While it may potentially stop a small number of people from legally purchasing a firearm, it does not prevent them from purchasing illegally. Not to mention, whos to say that the person cleared (psychologically) to purchase wouldn’t use the weapon to commit a crime in the future? In all reality, this is the real world and not Minority Report. It would be great to foresee the future in order to prevent bad and evil things from happening, but it’s just not possible.
Australia and the UK
Australia, the UK, and other weapon restrictive countries are frequently brought up during the firearm discussion. At first glance, governmental firearm regulation looks promising, however, it does seem to be akin to comparing apples to oranges in some fashion. Statistics will say that crimes involving a firearm have dropped after heavy gun control measures have been put in place and that is correct, they have. The downside, however, is that while firearm involved crime across most of these countries has gone down, violent crime has either stayed the same or has gone up.
In the UK, they have come to the realization that gun control does not stop violent crime but they still haven’t realized that control and/or regulation hasn’t really stopped much of anything. Criminals in the UK have been forced to turn to other forms of weaponry since firearms are not readily accessible. We now hear the infamous phrase “Save a Life, Surrender your Knife” and it’s not a joke. Violent crime statistics have led them to push knife control now because apparently, they haven’t learned that the criminals will just turn to another form of weaponry.
A lot of people that bring up Australia and the UK are also ignoring the differences between those countries and the US. Things such as organized crime, social economics, gangs (not always organized crime), supply and demand, capitalism, and others (like both the UK and Australia are islands) are generally not brought into the argument. And yes, the fact that they are islands does factor into the situation; circumventing customs is not an easy task, but when you are surrounded by water, it makes things even more difficult not to mention more expensive.
On a side note, I can’t even explain how naked I felt being in the UK (and other parts of Europe) and not being allowed to carry my pocket knife with me. For me, my SOG is kind of like the Visa card, “Never leave home without it”; it is a tool that I use frequently throughout the day and I don’t even think about it as a weapon unless I have to get into that mindset of possibly having to use it as one. Between the Boy Scouts, the military and Law Enforcement, I kept the ideology of “Always be Prepared” and “Always Prepared, Always Vigilant” with me. My knife has always been one of those tools that I carry ‘just in case’; it doesn’t matter if it is removing staples from paper, cutting strings, rescuing someone from a vehicle, cutting food or opening packaging or even if it is for a survival situation (‘wilderness’ or self-defense), no matter the case, it can be used to help me. The EU was a serious culture shock to me in this regard.
The question still remains, what can we do?
If you’ve lasted this long in reading this blog, the question still remains; What can we do? I don’t have an answer for you and I have no issue admitting it. After speaking with several people from both sides of the fence (gun owners & gun control supporters), the one thing that we can readily admit, as a whole, is that no matter what is put in place, it does not guarantee, nor does it prevent a tragedy like Las Vegas shooting from happening again.
In the end, I do think that some people need to understand that we are potentially surrounded by evil at any point in time. If history shows us anything, it is that human beings can be one of the evilest, most corrupt and unforgiving beings that we are aware of. In my opinion, no matter what we attempt to do to try and prevent a similar situation from happening, evil (including criminals) will find a way to circumvent our attempts.
To close this out, I figure that some [people] need to be reminded of evil actions that have taken place around the world where firearms weren’t even a factor, maybe it will help them understand my previous statement(s).
Bastille Day, 2016 – Truck Attack – 86 dead, 434 injured
Paris Metro – 1995 – Bombing – 8 dead, 140+ injured
Air France Flight 8969 – 1994 – Airline Hijacking – 7 dead, 25 injured
Berlin – 2016 – Truck Attack – 12 dead, 56 injured
Berlin – 1986 – Explosive Device – 3 dead, 231 injured
London – 2017 – Truck & Knife Attack – 8 dead, 48 injured
Manchester – 2017 – Explosive Device – 22 dead, 250 injured
Westminster – 2017 – Truck & Knife Attack – 6 dead, 49 injured
England – 1968 – 2001 – Multiple Bombings – IRA
London – 2005 – Multiple Bombings – 56 dead, 700 injured
Lockerbie – 1988 – Explosive Device – 270 dead
Hyderabad – 2013 – Explosive Device – 16 dead, 119 injured
Mumbai – 2011 – Explosive Device – 26 dead, 130 injured
Jaipur – 2008 – Explosive Device – 63 dead, 200 injured
Mumbai – 2006 – Explosive Device – 209 dead, 500 injured
Delhi – 2005 – Explosive Device – 70 dead, 250 injured
Morelia – 2008 – Grenades – 8 dead, 100 injured
Boston – 2013 – Explosive Device – 5 dead, 280 injured
US – 2001 – Anthrax – 5 dead, 17 injured
9/11 – 2001 – Airplane Hijacking – 2977 dead, 6000+ injured
Oklahoma City – 1995 – Explosive Device – 168 dead, 680+ injured
World Trade – 1993 – Explosive Device – 6 dead, 1042 injured
Oregon – 1984 – Salmonella – 0 dead, 751 injured
Pagadian City – 1982 – Explosive Device – 6 dead, 83 injured
Davao City -1993 – Grenades – 6 dead, 130+ injured
Ozamiz City – 2000 – Explosive Device – 41 dead, 100+ injured
Metro Manila – 2000 – Explosive Device – 22 dead, 120+ injured
Davao City – 2003 – Explosive Device – 21 dead, 146+ injured
Parang – 2004 – Explosive Device – 24 dead, 87+ injured
El Fraile Island – 2004 – Explosive Device – 116 dead, unknown injured
and the list goes on……..