To the Editor,
There is an issue in the news which everyone is decrying, yet not actually Facing: The issue is Gun Control. In the news today (Sunday, 30 December 2007) there were 2 shootings, with total casualties of 7 killed, 1 wounded. In the past three months there have been several mass (5 or more victims) shootings all over the nation.
To clear something up with those who would reply and rail against my motivations, I will say this: I am a reenactor, I own 2 firearms which I regularly shoot; and I hold a NH Concealed Carry Permit for pistols and revolvers. I am also a history major in my Junior year.
Please allow me to quote the news this morning: “A gunman killed one and injured another person at a Hooters restaurant when he was asked to leave for failure to pay his bill. He exited the store, turned and fired multiple shots through the front of the building. Also, in Phoenix AZ, 6 people were shot and killed by a gunman in what is being called a long-standing argument between neighbors. Police are looking for the gunman who fled the scene. A new sports record for the Patriots today…” Why did the deaths of 7 people not raise more Questions? How did the the gunmen get these weapons? Why was the man in the Hooters carrying a weapon at all? Was there a significant threat he was concerned about? Were police informed of it?
The argument for lack of gun control reads approximately as follows: “If everyone carried a gun, no one would be dumb enough to try anything, and if they did, everyone could shoot back. Look at Switzerland, they require everyone to have their assault rifle at home with them, and they have almost no gun crime; Hong Kong has outlawed guns, and it’s one of the easiest places in the world to get one…” The detail left out about Switzerland is that their population with the rifles has had 2 years of Active Duty Military Service, and is in the national reserve. Therefore, if they had the type of problems these shooters had, they were found out in the army, and they are thereafter not allowed to use firearms, they are given the help they need. I have found no evidence in any of these recent shootings the people involved had ever served, in any capacity. The OK Corral and most of the murders in the Wild West were caused by a lack of gun control: A drunk who was loosing at cards could buy a gun, kill everyone who he lost to and that was the end of it. Also, several people who would now be documented sociopaths were able to buy guns at will and shoot up anything and anyone they wanted.
Now, there are 3 General types of firearms: Those designed for hunting and sport (target shooting and the like), those which were designed solely to kill people, and Antique arms and reproductions there of, which span both sides of the other two types. Both weapons I own are of the last type, civilian hunting weapons of the 18th century.
The types of weapons meant for hunting and sport (most shotguns, bolt-actions, lever-actions, small-bore revolvers, etc) are deadly, but for the most part have small magazines holding less than 6 cartridges. Therefore, you could kill someone with them, but they would need to reload more often, and would have an inherently lower rate of fire due to the way they work and how they are made. These are reasonable weapons for someone to possess and be able to purchase, and own without undue licensing and specific reason for having them. Federal Laws now trace almost all legal firearms and records the owner of each, and its sale history.
The guns in the mall shootings however, were not of the above type. They were weapons designed solely to kill humans in a situation where they would be shooting back. In other words, military hardware. These should be made unavailable to those who would commit mass murder. Pistols with more than 8 rounds, most semi-automatic (term for a weapon that fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled and automatically readies another round) rifles, and anything that can be made to fire as a machine-gun should be available (Legally) only to Law Enforcement and Military, and only in very few specific circumstances be allowed to Historians with a legitimate reason to have them for Historical interpretation and research. If laws along this line were passed, the supply of Illegal weapons would dwindle quickly, and could be taken legally if found, thereby killing the major source of the weapons to illegal dealers. I really doubt a police officer is going to sell a weapon illegally, or to someone he didn’t trust, as there is a significant risk he will have to face it further down the road.
In the last category, there is a wide variety of weapons encompassed, ranging from the first firearms ever made to World War II surplus. This fact makes it hard to judge, and are from both types mentioned above. However, with proper licensing and common sense, it would be reasonable to allow their possession for weapons even as recent as WWII. If someone wished to purchase a Thompson Sub-Machinegun with no evidence of being a member of a historical weapons’ shooting club, Reenactment group or museum, the police chief of the town or their deputy should be the judge if the sale should go through, for each individual case.
As an example in numbers of my case I will give the results of the following scenario with each of the classes of weapons mentioned above: A three minute shooting spree with 120 bullets brought by the gunman. 50% of rounds will be hits, 50% of those hit are killed, the rest wounded. The weapons chosen are: for human-killer weapon class: AK-47(30 round magazine, full auto action); for Hunting weapons, a Remington 700 rifle (5 rounds, bolt action); for antique, a Reproduction Brown Bess of the revolutionary war era (1 round, muzzle-loaded). For the Remington, I am basing rate of fire off the German Army First World War standard of 10 rounds per minute with a similar rifle; for the Brown Bess, 4 rounds per minute, which is the sustained rate of fire I can achieve with the same weapon after 2 years of continual practice. Police response is to kill the gunman after 3 minutes.
AK-47 results: 120 rounds fired(4 reloads); 60 casualties, 30 dead and the same wounded. This fight is over in less than a minute and a half, as the effective rate of fire for a weapon of this sort is about 300 rounds per minute for a skilled hand, reload time inclusive.
Remington results: 30 rounds fired(6 reloads); 15 casualties, 7.5 dead, same wounded.
Brown Bess: 12 rounds fired(12 reloads); 6 casualties, 3 killed, same wounded.
If these numbers cannot get the point across, I am not certain what will.
I will leave the legal side of this to Lawyers and legislators, as that is their job. However, it is our responsibility as citizens to DEMAND that they face the issue now, not later. Call or write to your reps. and Demand they address the issue, before more innocent people are killed by the firearm laws now in place.