It’s time to use the ‘C’ word
During last week’s Triad Today program, I uttered the “C” word. I don’t just mean any “C” word; I mean the dreaded “C” word. The one word that makes Second Amendment activists’ blood boil. It happened while our roundtable panel was discussing what can be done to prevent mass shootings such as the ones in El Paso and Dayton. That’s when I commented that no matter how many gun control measures are enacted, they will be ineffective unless accompanied by the “C” word: “Confiscation.” Why? Because there are more guns in America than there are people. Forty million more to be exact. And so, even if you ban the sale of assault-style rifles and semi-automatic handguns, anyone who is hell-bent on killing people need only to beg, borrow, or steal one of the 357 million guns already in circulation.
For the record, I believe in the spirit of the Second Amendment, and I own several guns. Some of them are for home protection, and others are collectibles. None of them are assault rifles. That’s because I don’t need an assault rifle, and neither does any other private citizen. Folks on the far right, however, argue that a ban on the sale of such weapons would be, in itself, an assault on the Second Amendment. They say the Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear arms. The problem is that when James Madison wrote the Constitution, a single shot musket was the weapon of choice, with which the finest marksmen of that era could only kill one person per minute. If a bayonet was affixed to the musket, the shooter might be able to kill two people per minute.
In contrast, today’s assault-style rifles “affixed” with high capacity magazines can kill over a hundred people per minute. I hardly think that the framers of our Constitution would have wanted every citizen to own an AK-47. Another popular argument put forth by the Right is that mass shooters are mentally ill, but earlier this month the Washington Post published findings of a 2018 report by the FBI, which found that of 63 active shooter assailants studied, only three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.
Let’s suppose for a moment, though, that folks who cling to these false arguments are suddenly outnumbered, and Congress finally votes on comprehensive gun reform legislation. Let’s say the reform package includes a ban on the sale of assault rifles, universal background checks, registration of all guns, mandatory metal detectors and electronic locking doors in schools and other public buildings, an SRO in every school, and a federal Red Flag law whereby police or family members can petition a court to take guns away from anyone ruled to be a threat to himself or others (at present, only 17 states have a Red Flag law). Such reforms would be meaningless unless they include a plan for confiscating all assault-style weapons and high-capacity clips through a national buy-back campaign, along with serious prison time for anyone who doesn’t participate. Then and only then will we have a fighting chance to prevent mass shootings.
So don’t be lured to sleep by the sweet sounds of singular reforms being touted by presidential candidates and grandstanding congressmen. Let your representative know that you favor confiscation of all existing assault-style rifles. Don’t be afraid to utter the “C” word because, given the growing number of mass shootings, an extreme solution is the only way to prevent extreme violence.
Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).