When Bushmasters Were Snakes In South America, Not Assault Weapons That Kill Our Children
Bushmasters Hunt People, Not Ducks
Bushmaster, Inc. has been manufacturing assault weapons since 1978. They are sold to police, the military and, according to Bushmaster, Inc.'s own website, families that seek to protect their homes. Up until a few days ago, their website showed a picture of one of their Bushmaster assault weapons and the caption above the picture stated, "With Justice For All". That "justice" seeking Bushmaster has, most recently, been the weapon that mowed-down 20 of our country's first graders and 6 of their teachers and other school officials. Bushmasters are not just deadly South American pit vipers anymore.
For the law enforcement community, SWAT Teams and our military, they are necessary, but make no mistake, they are weapons designed to hunt people, not ducks. Each magazine, which holds bullets, can hold anywhere from 15 to 100 rounds. You ever try shooting a duck with an assault rifle? I guarantee, that duck is not going to be edible, much less identifiable. None of us can even imagine, except for the parents in Newtown, Connecticut, what that assault weapon can do to the body of a 6 year-old baby.
They Are Coming For Your Guns, America!
No one is coming for America's guns. The argument holds no water, is not credible, and is only made by a paranoid few who refuse to face reality. It is time that America comes to terms with and faces reality. If we, as a country, have a soul, we must. Hunters will still be able to hunt, families will still be able to protect their homes, but as a country with a soul, we have to decide that people-hunting guns are inappropriate for civilian use and ownership. Not even a liberal lefty like me is advocating that guns be confiscated by an over-reaching government. Not only must people-hunting guns be strictly regulated, but magazines that hold multiple rounds (do you really need a 10, 15, 30 or 100 bullet magazine?) must be legislated. Armor piercing bullets must be outlawed.
I shot my first gun when I was 13. It was a single-shot 22 caliber rifle. We had moved 15 miles from the nearest town, out to the country and the nearest neighbor was acres away. The sheriff was at least an hour away. I was the oldest and when my parents were away for some reason, that gun made me feel safe. Whether it was a bobcat attacking one of our dogs, or a 5 foot long rattlesnake curled up under that damn orange tree that was too close to the house, I had no problem taking care of them. Even when the crazy neighbor who lived in a shack 1/4 mile away (my parents told me to stay away from him) confronted me one day while I was alone and threatened to stab me and my dog, that 22 sent him running, never to return. I didn't need a Bushmaster to defend myself or my brother or sister.
I have a gun today. It is a small 38 caliber pistol that holds 5 bullets. I know how to use it. I know how to clean it. The only time I ever used it was when my younger daughter, 15 at the time, decided, over my objections, that she was going to date a 23 year old man. She called me, a single mom, and told me that she was bringing this guy home to meet me. When they arrived at the house, there I was, sitting at the dining room table, cleaning my little 38. Within 15 minutes, the guy was out the door, and as she followed him, I could hear him saying, "Your mom is a psycho. She has a gun and I can't go out with you." The 38 went back into the locked case and I haven't taken it out for many years.
No civilian can present a valid argument for owning a Bushmaster. Don't even try it! When the second amendment was adopted, muskets were the weapons in existence. The founding fathers weren't talking about citizens arming themselves with Bushmasters. They were talking about muskets. Stay true to the founding fathers? The founding fathers owned slaves and women couldn't vote. Times have changed and we must change with the times.
So, no, I am not advocating that hunters should lose their ability to hunt or that families should be left defenseless, my premise is a simple one: People-hunting guns like the Bushmaster must be prohibited for use by civilians. The term civilian includes any of the various self-identified "separatist militias" that have their compounds and hidden safe-havens in sparsely popuated areas of this country. You are not militias. For the most part, you are a group of like-minded paranoid and dangerous extremists. And no, one man with 20 Bushmasters in his home does not a militia make. Any individual who insists that his massive collection of people-hunting weapons is necessary to protect himself from a tyrannical government is more than a little paranoid and just may qualify as someone who has a mental illness.
Our Mental Health System Is Broken
The conversation about mental health is an equally important factor in this discussion because gun control legislation alone will not lessen mass killings or other atrocities. We have abdicated our responsibility to the mentally ill in this country. Access to quality care is challenged, and is often an insurmountable challenge for families with a mentally ill family member. Mothers and fathers throughout this country are beside themselves because they cannot get adequate treatment or services for their children. It is even a problem to come up with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for those families that have insurance. It is a worse, and often impossible problem when financial resources are limited and medical insurance is lacking.
We can no longer sweep the issue of mental illness under the American rug of denial. It must be part of any conversation about violence.
Enough Is Enough!
Our hearts are broken. Twenty of our beautiful babies will not have Christmas this year. Santa will not come. They will miss all Christmases to come. This is the time to have the conversations that we may not want to have. This is also the time to say enough is enough, and this time we must act.
We may not prevent any and all violence in the future, but we have to try.
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