When she woke me up yesterday morning, my wife told me that I might not want to tune into CNN as is my custom because at least 50 people were dead and many more injured in Las Vegas. Some crazy gunman opened fire on a outdoor music festival from the upper floor of a nearby hotel. So of course I turned on the TV and tuned it to CNN. What I learned in the next few minutes you probably know better than I because I am not a morning person and I usually don’t wake up fully until I have several cups of coffee.
However, one thing got my attention immediately. CNN aired a video someone had recorded on a cell phone of the first minutes of the shooting. The sound of nearly continuous automatic gun fire was unmistakable. It had to be military type weapon which had been altered from semi-automatic to automatic, not a difficult thing to do if you know what you are doing. Due to the length of the burst, the shooter had to be using a very large ammunition magazine with the weapon – probably one which allows you to fire 300 or more rounds without reloading. Scarier still was the fact that after the shooter apparently ran out of ammunition there was a pause and then the continuous automatic fire started up again – the shooter had multiple automatic weapons with large magazines or at least multiple magazines loaded with ammo.
The deadly effect of such weapons on a packed crowd laid out before a shooter in that situation would have been overwhelming. No marksmanship would have been necessary.The shooter would only had to hold down the trigger and move the muzzle of the weapon around while aiming at the crowd in general.The “shooting fish in a barrel” saying isn’t even appropriate – it would be much easier than that. The second and third and fourth rounds of shots would have been almost as effective. People by then would be trying to take cover, but in the open like that there was little or no cover that would keep them from being hit.
Meanwhile the shooter had only to pick up another fully loaded weapon or slap a new high capacity magazine onto the one he was using. The carnage would stop only when the shooter ran out of ammo or he took his own life, whichever came first. Evidently it was the latter.
When in the hell are we going to learn? When is the public’s right to be reasonably safe in their ordinarily lives going to be more important that the typical gun enthusiastic’ right to be able to go to a gun range and tear up targets with semi-automatic fire from military type weapon. Because that is literally all these military weapons are good for. No hunter needs a semiautomatic assault weapon to bring down game. No homeowner needs a semiautomatic assault weapon to protect his family and his property. Such weapons are made only one thing – killing many people quickly.
There is little doubt the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution has limits. The Supreme Court has made that clear. Private individuals can’t buy or own 60 mm machine guns or weapons which fire rocket propelled grenades. You and I can’t go down and buy a military surplus tank mounted with an operational large cannon in its turret. Like it or not there are limits to our 2nd Amendment rights; all civil authorities have to demonstrate reasonable cause for establishing those limits.
If the shooting of innocent children in Sandy Hook, the shooting at the Pulse night club, and this new shooting in Las Vegas are not reason enough to begin the process of banning or more strictly regulating military assault weapons, then we are doomed to live our lives in fear whenever we gather in large numbers anywhere. Or we must give up other rights to be able to allow police authorities try to ensure that such shootings can’t happen again. When do our rights to be reasonably safe from deranged individuals or terrorists with assault weapons outweigh the rights of NRA members to tear up targets at a gun range?