Young: Bazookas and the founding fathers
Ryan Summerlin March 7, 2014
The NFL hinted it would move the Super Bowl, and Apple said it could find a new place for a planned plant if Arizona legitimized discrimination most foul, most un-American, against gays and lesbians.
In a similarly principled stand, arms maker Magpul Industries has moved its plant to Wyoming.
The principle in question? People shouldn’t have to reload so often at target practice. That’s not what the gun lobby said, but . . .
Colorado, site of much rapid-firearm horror, was Magpul’s home until recently. Last year when lawmakers there deliberated a ban on magazines of 15 rounds or more, Magpul threatened to bolt. Unmoved, the governor and lawmakers said, “Enjoy the scenery upon exiting.”
Opponents of a limit on such rapid-fire efficiency said this wasn’t about sporting efficiency. It was about self-protection.
Let’s say a pack of, oh, a dozen burglars invaded one’s home. A box of 10-round clips wouldn’t do the trick. Any law-abiding American defending his home would be defenseless. It happens all the time. In Colorado we were to imagine these herd burglaries run amok.
Funny. Not really, but when Erik Larson, in his book “Lethal Passage,” a portrait of the gun industry, asked a gun merchant to explain the function of high-capacity magazines, the man shrugged and said that it’s about having to reload at the range. After all, he said, “You’re paying by the hour for range time.”
That wasn’t Adam Lanza’s concern when he mowed down first-graders and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary with a 30-round Magpul mag.
A young gunman who killed three students at Chardon, Ohio, in 2012 wished he’d had a sweet 30-rounder on him, because when pursued by a brave football coach, he failed to reload after 10.
But, wait: Consider this interesting rationale. One of the wise Republicans who does the gun lobby’s bidding in the Colorado General Assembly said, “Maybe it was a good thing” that theater shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine in his possession, because after he killed 12 and wounded 58, it jammed. See? Only 70 lives shattered.
So much for unthinkable rationalizations. What about the one that this firepower is what the Founding Fathers wanted? A civilian population armed like just any military or police force to protect its freedom.
I hear this rationale, and I wonder why, then, just anyone can’t have a mortar, a submachine gun, a Stinger missile for plunking targets at the range. (OK, too time-consuming to reload; on the clock, you know.) Face it: The founders would have blanched at the thought.
Instances in which lives were saved because a gunman had to reload are plentiful. Instances in which high-capacity weapons actually did what the gun lobby says justifies them are so rare as to be of pink elephant stock.
Convenience, convenience. A burrito from the microwave. A Slurpee from the tap. A gun that fires unlimited rounds and can be bought like a scratch-off.
If we were to hew to the wishes of the gun lobby, such transactions would be uncontrolled, as too many are.
Colorado’s lawmakers refused to accept that. Last year they instituted universal background checks for firearms in addition to the magazine limit.
Subsequently, the gun lobby harnessed the power of low-turnout politics and picked off two state senators with recalls. Score one for convenience.
Not everyone is resigned to these matters.
On March 13-16, faith communities across the country will show their alarm about national trends with the Gun Violence Sabbath Weekend.
Sounds like so much talk. But when gun merchants and their policy-making caddies talk loudest, it would seem imperative that someone else offer a counterpoint.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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