Those of us who served in the military, especially those of us who were grunts, have a pretty clear idea what kind of damage an assault rifle can do in the hands of determined shooter with plenty of ammo.
Unfortunately, since the all-volunteer military, fewer and fewer Americans have ever even held such a weapon, much less seen what it can do. Which is why the current conversation on guns is going nowhere fast.
That means the current debate about whether to ban assault-style rifles and high-capacity clips is really no debate at all. One side is operating with an unfair advantage while the other side is operating without the most critical facts and information; just what's the big deal about assault rifles? Isn't a rifle and rifle?
I can sit here all day trying to explain exactly the kind of damage a .223 round out of an AR-15 clone can do; how it makes a neat tiny hole going into a body, wobbles around and mushrooms inside the body, tearing organs apart, then creates a giant, bloody hole on it's way out. But you'd still have no idea the entire horrific reality of the matter.
Of course there is a way to level that debating field - show the carnage. In particular - and I know this will be hard for many - show the aftermath of the Newtown massacre.
Don't just describe it -- though I will have to say the media really didn't even do that much. But show it. Show it in blazing, high-definition, gory color. I know the parents of those dead little kids might object. And I understand why. But this is a national crisis, not the sole property of Newtown or those poor parents. Care could be take to obscure individual faces. Fine. But show the mess. Show the young brain-matter splattered floor to ceiling. Show the those little tummies blown wide open. Show the rivers of juvenile blood running beneath their desks and bodies.
It will be hard . But certainly no harder for us than the last minutes of those kid's tiny lives were for them. Those dead kids, and only them, can speak the full truth to the NRA's cold, careless, blame-shifting bullshit. If you don't see it, you don't get it. Not even a close.
Assault rifles bear a name that describes their purpose ... assault. Hunter's hunt. Soldiers assault. Any one who insists he/she has needs to own an assault rifle lives in a dark fantasy world, a place where they imagine impending assault. Some fantasize defending themselves from black government helicopters. Others daydream of shooting rampaging minorities, of one variety or another.
Some are open about that. Others not so much. But that's the only reason to own an assault rifle.
From time to time, some of those folk get tired of waiting for the day they imagine will come, and just start shooting. That list is already long, and every year there are new assault-weapon fueled massacres to add to that list. When that happens the NRA blames it on unaddressed mental health issues. Some of us wonder what's "sane"about 21st-century Americans arming themselves with assault weapons because they honestly believe "the guv'ment" is coming after them. In pyschiatry that's called "clinical paranoia," or in lay language, bat sh*t crazy. And in those cases it's armed and bat sh*t crazy.
So what to do? Politicians, on the left and the right, will continue to shy away from this issue. Why? Because they are craven little cowards whose only concern is hanging onto their phony-baloney jobs -- to quote Mel Brooks.
So it must begin with the media, and those dead kids in Newton. As hard as it may be, and as fierce as the firestorm of criticism would be, the media should file suit for access to the police photos of the immediate aftermath of the Newton massacre. And, when they get them, publish them, air them.
This would not be to gratify some sick prurient curiosity. No sane American wants to see those photos. No me, not you, not anyone without loose screws wants to see what that assault rifle did to those poor little kids.
Which is exactly why the nation needs to see them. Because therein, and only therein, are the reasons to ban them once and for all.
BTW, here's what a Bushmaster assault rifle can do. Imagine what it was like inside that classroom.