By John P. Lopez
I am a gun owner. I am an avid hunter. I have a weapon in my home for protection. I support — for the most part — the Second Amendment.
But never has it been more clear that the United States should ban and buy back semi-automatic weapons. They kill. They kill children. That is their sole purpose — to kill.
The NRA, avid gun owners and collectors always will scoff, posture and contend that it is our constitutional right to bear arms. They lean on antiquated ideals of the right for us as citizens to form a militia. Really? How’s that semi-automatic gonna hold up against the Navy Seals?
I have many friends and family members who will argue that semi-automatic weapons are their hobby and their passion. Often times, they fire these weapons on remote property, just for fun, at trees or targets or hogs. They collect them, store them, show them off.
I hope they enjoy shooting these weapons at trees. Because having that right also gives disturbed individuals the right to kill children.
Those who hide behind the words of the Second Amendment conveniently forget that the first three words of the Second Amendment read, “A well-regulated … ”
That’s what I’m talking about here. I still will go hunting. I still will have my handgun. I still will have my two shotguns and hunting rifle. That’s my right.
But every statistic, every example, directly connects semi-automatic weapons and the lack of a ban on them to horrific events like what happened in Newtown, Ct. on Friday.
I covered the Columbine shootings of 1999 in Colorado. The faces of the parents who lost children remains a most vivid and painful memory.
Semi-automatic weapons were used at Columbine, but nothing was done to better regulate or ban them. Since Columbine — not counting numerous other mass shootings over the years, like what happened at a Colorado movie theater and a Wisconsin temple recently — there have been 31 school shootings in this country.
Thirty-one school shootings. The rest of the planet has seen just 14 such senseless acts.
In 1996, after 35 people were killed with semi-automatic weapons in Tasmania, Australia got tougher on the weapons, banning semi-automatics and buying back some 500,000 from citizens. There were 18 mass shootings in Australia in the 10 years before. Since, there have been none. Zero.
Of course mental illness is a part of the equation and should be addressed with equal energy and efficiency. But there are mentally deranged and dangerous people all over the world, the difference between there and here is we much more easily arm and enable the deranged.
Tell me again, semi-automatic gun owners, how much fun it is to go out to the woods and shoot at trees. Tell me about the rush you get and your rights. But the next time you start clicking the trigger of your semi-automatic weapon, understand one certainty.
Details and motives remain unclear about the Newtown massacres. We know very little about the victims, the assailant, the disturbing moments before and during the horrific tragedy.
The only thing we know for sure is this: It will happen again.