MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD, March 10, 2018 – President Trump informed a group of governors that he would have rushed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in FL, even without a weapon. This happened on Monday February 26. His statement reproached the action of four deputy sheriffs and more specifically one of them that did not rush in during the massacre at Parkland, FL.
Following the massacre, the President’s stand on gun control appears to be changing.
Rushing into danger
Saying it is impossible to know how one would act, the President says he likes to think he would be able to rush into the school during an active shooting.
For a person that has never worn a uniform to protect his country or its citizens, is this statement just the bravado of an old man?
Is it possible that he has become braver and more empathetic in his adult years?
That is for you to decide for yourself.
No one knows how they will respond to terror
It is true that one never knows what reaction one will have in a case of life and death. Even after months and even years of training some soldiers cower in a combat situation.
Respect for self and the job at hand, madness and/or a sense of patriotism and duty to self and others make a person jump into a dangerous situation.
Combat soldiers that stand their ground and even charge the enemy are usually driven by the first and/or third reasons – either respect for self or a sense of duty.
What is wrong with these claims?
When together drinking, humans tend to boast. In the moment we think we can do anything and if these claims are well received by those around, what is the harm? It is also true that teenagers that are not mature enough to realize what they are saying and the consequences, tend to boast.
President Trump does not have the excuse of impairment for having imbibed one too many. He is also too long in tooth to make an immature boast. But we don’t know. He may have gone in to try and save the children. Thinking he could deal with the gunman, or just feeling he simply must do something.
The President’s love for his children is one thing we cannot deny. Most parents would want to protect their children and many would want to protect all children in general.
So would you have gone into the shooting at Parkland, guns blazing?
Not to excuse the deputy sheriff that chose not to enter the school while the shooter was still active, how many of us would have done differently?
Maybe he knew the shooter had more firepower. Or he did not know how many shooters were inside. Possibly he was following orders.
It is also possible that fear froze him in place. After decades of service, he did not want to go out feet first.
We put our police officers in danger every day.
We count on enough publicly minded individuals to be our protection force, usually for relatively low salaries. This means we also allow them to put their lives in jeopardy because our legislatures are too weak to fight the gun lobby and pass rational gun control laws.
A recent post on Quora had this argument for not banning combat type weapons for civilians:
“Mass shootings are such a rare cause of death in the United States that we can’t even quantify them meaningfully.”
In other words, we have so many people killed by firearms that mass shootings are almost statistically insignificant. Tell this to the parents of those killed in Newtown and Parkland. Or Columbine.
In this argument, we cannot deny that in Chicago, which has strict gun control laws, 650 homicides were recorded in 2017. Baltimore reports 353 killings. Of course, guns that were used appear to come mostly from adjacent jurisdictions that have less strict gun laws. Unfortunately there is no way to know for sure. The NRA has been successful in opposing gun violence research for 20 years.
These are not killings contained to a single building or a single shooter. And often, those killed, a baby in his high chair, a young girl doing her homework, are as innocent as the children in Parkland.
The argument for and against guns and gun control
In addition to the Second Amendment, one argument that the NRA uses to protect the sale of combat type weapons is that they are hunting rifles. The problem here is that hunting rifles cannot fire 20 rounds in less than 10 seconds. They don’t usually have high capacity magazines. Which are two things game hunters would not use.
Hunters do not need AR-15 to kill game. They need a rifle that would let them take careful aim and fire at most two rounds at a time. Fans of the AR-15 for hunting, say the lightness of the gun, along with its use, make it a desirable hunting gun.
Unfortunately, it is also the gun of choice when it comes to killing people. Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock’s AR-15 rifles were fitted with vertical forward grips and bump fire stocks allowing the trigger to fire at 90 rounds in 10 seconds.
Effective gun control has been a slippery slope for Democrat and Republican Presidents.
In 1994 assault weapons were banned. Under President Bush the ban expired in 2004 . President Obama did not reinstate the ban. The actual number of Obama gun laws that made it through Congress during his two terms in office comes in at only two, neither of them placing restrictions on gun owners. According to Thoughts & Co.:
“Attempts to limit the size of gun magazines, expand background checks of gun buyers and ban gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists all failed to pass under Obama.”
This despite the fact that from the day he took office until January of 2011, both the House and Senate were in Democratic control. For some of that time, the Senate was in supermajority Democratic control, with 60 Senators caucusing with the Democrats. He probably knew that even some Democrats would not have voted for drastic gun reform.
President Trump has issued an Executive Order banning bump stocks. And seems to be supporting the idea of raising the age of purchase. But that is not enough. Expanded background checks, closing gun show sales, limiting magazine sizes, banning assault ammunition and narrowing loopholes is the only way to protect the Second Amendment and allow stricter gun control.
But will that make a difference in the deaths in Chicago? Or Baltimore? Will that stop someone with evil intent? We don’t really know, but it might make it more difficult for them. In Australia where a ban on fire arms was decreed, an AR15 knock off sells for $34,000 in the black market. The number of deaths by fire arms there has almost zeroed out.
So, what can we do?
If the mass shootings pale by comparison to the overall firearms deaths, we should be changing the conversation. This conversation should not be what the NRA wants us to dialogue about: assault type weapons do not cause a significant number of violent deaths.
It should be: what can we do to decrease the number of violent deaths.
Other countries when faced with this question have implemented rational gun control laws or even drastic bans. The good news is that they have worked.
About the Author
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, does not support the second amendment. He believes it is an antiquated idea that needs to be changed. He is on Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).