What is the Cost of Gun Violence?

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“Please send the police now,” one of the little students begged of the 911 operator. And according to the official timeline, 19 law enforcement officers were outside the room where the murderer barricaded himself as he continued to shoot his victims.

It’s been 13 days since the gunman walked past police and into an elementary school to murder as many people as he could. Turns out he killed 19 small children and two school teachers.

The top police official at Robb Elementary School that day was school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo  He’s the guy who gave the order for 19 law enforcement officers to stand around outside the classroom while the killer was doing his dirty business. The Texas State Police, better known as the Texas Rangers, would like to question him about his role in the massacre. Old Pete has been in hiding, ducking the Texas Rangers and everyone else who wants to ask him some very important questions.

He was able to be sworn in as a Uvalde City Council member on June 1, in a secret ceremony. The mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, said they did the swearing in secretly because a public ceremony would look like the city council was insensitive to the victims and family members.

It took some Border Patrol agents to ignore Arredondo’s order to wait outside the classroom and rush to kill the shooter.

A meme that has been going around social media: “If 19 law enforcement officers were afraid to take on a guy with an AR15, then don’t expect teachers to carry firearms  to do it.”

The school was “hardened” and no, a teacher didn’t leave a door open. They need to find a scapegoat to hang the responsibility on because “they” — the top pols and government officials — might have to address the truth: An 18-year-old was able to purchase two assault weapons and more than 300 rounds of ammunition, with enough 30-round clips for 210 of those rounds. That is the real problem. Not unarmed teachers, not schools that aren’t hardened, not mental health issues. It’s the easy access to guns of all types, especially in Texas where any 18-year-old can purchase enough weapons and ammo to fight a small action … well, we shouldn’t say fighting, those children and their two teachers weren’t looking for a fight that day. They were trying to hide from the gunman, as they whispered into their phones while talking to 911 operators.

I’m sick of it and roughly 80% of the U.S. population agrees. Congress needs to do something now! Congress should have renewed the assault weapons ban back in 2004, but they didn’t. Now look at the legacy since then. Just this year, which isn’t quite half over, we have had over 230 mass shootings in the U.S. That’s four or more people killed or injured or shot at. Just since Uvalde there have been over 20, including the man who bought an AR-15 and enough rounds to murder his doctor and three others, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

These states with their lax gun laws, open-carry laws and militant attitudes about the Second Amendment, they are the problem. That amendment — which was written in the 18th century when it took two minutes to load a single-shot rifle then aim and shoot — reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A well-regulated militia … No, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers don’t count. They are not the least bit regulated. The amendment says “well regulated.” Now deceased associate justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia wrote, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment right is not unlimited …  [It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Somehow gun nuts — as opposed to gun owners who agree with Scalia — have it in their heads the Second Amendment doesn’t have any limits and any effort to regulate firearms is seen as an infringement on the right to bear arms …

Which is kind of not there. The keeping of firearms is for the purposes of having a state militia. We no longer have “state militias, ” we have the National Guard, with the governors of each state having control of them, unless the federal government takes them for purposes of going to war — Like President George W. Bush did when he started his war in Iraq, Anyway Scalia said there are limits to the Second Amendment, like when the feds made it illegal to own fully automatic machine guns, back in the 1930s.

This is a tangent, deal with it.

Anyway, back when I was a Marine we had to qualify with the M16 twice a year, and when we became NCO’s the Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber hand gun. I’m proud to say that, except for boot camp when I shot in the Sharpshooter range of scores, just missing the coveted “expert” qualification, after boot camp I always shot Expert with the M16 and expert with the .45.

At any rate one day while I was qualifying with the M16 the range officer, a captain as I recall, did an astounding demonstration with his M16. While in the standing position he shouldered the weapon at the 200 yard line and then proceeded to empty a 30-round clip into the target. He got nearly every round in the circular bullseye. He is the only person I ever saw do that; accurately fire 20 or 30 rounds into a target while on fully automatic. It’s nearly impossible to fire a sustained 10-20 round burst accurately, in the fully automatic mode.

Now, while the M4, a juiced up version of the M16, can fire semi-automatic and fully automatic — and on some models the three round semi-burst —  firing willy nilly on fully automatic is just a complete waste of ammunition. The military has machine guns that are designed for, and exclusively shoot, automatic.

According to some Marines I know their favorite fully automatic weapon is the M240. It can be mounted, like in a helicopter, or with a bipod, on the ground so the Marine using it can fire from the prone position, or it can be hand-held. It’s belt-fed so when they are spraying bullets at the rate of 800-per minute they will cause a lot of damage to the target area.

A YouTube screenshot of a Marine using an M240
( https://youtu.be/EU49dAEItbE )

If you see a photo of a Marine or Soldier holding what looks like a heavy weapon, chances are he or she is holding an M240. It just looks cool.

Back to the issue at hand. Look at that top photo of a young Marine shooting at a firing range with an M4 carbine that has an M203 Grenade launcher attachment. So, does this look like the type of weapon we should allow 18-year-old civilian boys to use? Or anyone, for that matter? It’s a rhetorical question.

The only differences between the weapon in that top photo and the AR15 style weapon the murderers used in Uvalde and Tulsa and Parkland and Sandy Hook and … and … and … The only differences are: You cannot legally buy an AR with a grenade launcher and the M4 is fully automatic while the AR15 is semi-automatic.

One point to make here: There are semi-automatic hunting rifles we can buy, but most of them are .22 caliber, not the 5.56 round used in the M4 and AR15 variants. Plus those hunting rifles have either three or five-round clips. So when I hear someone say we should ban all semi-automatic refiles, I wince a bit. Congress should pass, and the president sign into law, a permanent ban on all assault-style weapons, like the 1994  Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection, also known as the  Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the original author of the bill, said the version passed by the U.S. Senate and then the House of Representatives was a watered down, weaker bill, that her first proposal, but it at least addressed many of the issues related to mass shootings and other gun violence. If you look at the Wiki page for the ban, you can get all the details.

The ban was for 10 years and as posted earlier, the GOP congress and president at the time chose not to renew and extend the law in 2004. With this link you can see how many people have been killed or injured from mass shootings in the U.S. from 2009 to 2021: 1,363 souls killed and 947 wounded.

We need to get real about an assault weapons ban. There are at least 100 million assault-style weapons in the U.S., most of them legally owned. I would be surprised if 10% of the owners voluntarily turned in their ARs and AKs. Plus, according to our Constitution, Congress cannot write or enforce any Ex post facto laws. In other words the people that already have them can keep them. But Congress can stop further production and sales of assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines. Had an assault weapons ban been in effect there’s a good chance the killers in Uvalde and Tulsa wouldn’t have occurred. The Uvalde killer bought his weapons just days before he murdered those kids and teachers and the Tulsa shooter bought his weapon the same day. How many people would have been saved had the assault weapons ban had remained in effect? It’s rhetorical really. Columbine occurred while the AWB was in effect, so, really, no one solution is 100% effective. But give up the notion of collecting every assault-style firearm in the nation. Ain’t gonna happen. The people that own them are not the kind of people who cheerfully give up their weapons, or even begrudgingly.

Thoughts and prayers mean nothing if there isn’t any action to curb the gun violence.  Faith without works is dead,” as the disciple James wrote in his Gospel. Ass James wrote, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

I’m not a Bible thumper, but there are some great instructions for living — and then there is the trash.

How many children will die as a result of no action? The two killers at Columbine High School murdered 10 students and one teacher.

Did you know there is a condition named after Columbine? It’s called the “Columbine Effect.” After that mass murder, schools train their students with “active shooter” drills , plus they have taken rather serious precautions — hardening the schools as Senator Ted Cruz recently said. Also police departments  train for active shooters at schools, malls, businesses, etc. I was talking with my brother and he was angered by the fact that his 8th grader daughter had to go through active shooter drills once per month.

As part of their active shooter training police — or most police anyway  — are trained to disregard their own safety and go immediately to the shooter and take him, or her, out. In fact a Texas law requires police officers to go to the shooter as quickly as possible and prevent him or her from killing more people. Nineteen law enforcement officers stood outside that classroom for an hour while children were calling 911 and the shooter was picking off the young ones.

Nineteen good guys with guns stood back while an active shooter killed school kids. So the good guy with a gun scenario didn’t work. The school was hardened and that didn’t work. It’s about the guns.

Between Buffalo, Laguna Woods, Uvalde and Tulsa, 36 people have been murdered. There are, no doubt, people who believe these gun-related deaths are the price we need to pay for the unfettered access to firearms. The real question is: Are we ready to put our faith and words into action and stop paying this price?

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