If we need to ban assault weapons, then we really need to ban cars.
In the wake of the Sandyhook tragedy, knee jerk reactions are abounding. But none larger than the cry for the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. So I decided to do a little research to see how bad this problem really was. And this is what I found.
The latest FBI Crime Statistic is from 2011. It does not list the specific weapon used in each homicide, but assault weapons are part of the group called "rifles". (This includes deer rifles too.) There were 323 homicides in this category. (As a comparator, 728 homicides were committed with "fists and feet" and 1,694 were committed by "edged weapons".)
This inspired me to look at another leading cause of death in the United States, the automobile. The latest available statistics are from the Center of Disease Control for the year 2010. In that year, there were 32,886 deaths caused by automobiles, with 10,288 of those being caused by drunk drivers. In addition, of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2010, 211 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Of the 211 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2010, over half (131) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver. Also in 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics and caused $51 billion in damages.
So why the hell haven't we banned cars? If we are willing to throw the amendment in our constitution that absolutely guarantees all others, firmly under the bus, to rid us of assault weapons, why not the automobile? The car is not constitutionally protected like the firearm, and was involved in more crime that led to death. Why should you be allowed to own a car in the first place? There is public transportation available to urban dwellers, and why do you need cars that are really fast anyways.
I live in rural Arizona. And I own a few assault rifles for protection. Now you folks in the city are always asking, why would I need an assault rifle for protection? Since we started with some math, lets continue. Average response time to a 911 call in an urban city, about 5 minutes (and if you are in the middle of a home invasion, the longest 5 minutes of your life). Now if you live 45 miles from a population center (as is common here), and call 911, the response time will be about 1 hour. Let that sink in, one hour. So you happen to be visiting me one day, and we observe a group of rough looking travelers appearing on the property, carrying backpacks, and armed with rifles. Now what at this point are you really going to depend on? You can call 911 and hope that an armed deputy or two will appear within that hour. Or you can let the individuals know you are armed so they may retreat, or defend yourself if required. At this point would you want to depend on your grandfathers outdated deer rifle, or the best equipment that money can buy, namely an assault rifle?
The Sandhook Tragedy overshadowed another spree shooter in a mall earlier in the week, happening in Portland, Oregon, where two shoppers and the gunman lost their lives. The biggest thing that was not reported (and much different) was that a gentleman by the name of Nick Meli drew his concealed firearm and forced the shooter to retreat, where the shooter subsequently then took his own life. Had Mr. Meli not been there, and armed, then the death toll would probably have been greater than Sandyhook.
Spree shooters are not hardened criminals. They are mentally ill people. But they do recognize the threat of a weapon and stop firing at innocent people in an act of self-interest. And they need help. That is the area that needs the focus of our anger and frustration. Our current health care system failed two young men last week, both are dead, and they left innocent victims in their wake. So instead of disarming the potential victims, the focus should be on this broken system.