Sen. Marco Rubio has courageously reconsidered his position on the issue of high capacity magazines for guns. The basis for his argument was human safety. Good on you, Senator! Then, he resisted the notion of banning all semi-automatic weapons on the basis that it was outside the mainstream—an argument based on political expediency. Senator Rubio, what if you were to use human safety as your basis consistently, regardless of how it would sell with your perception of the mainstream (a.k.a. your constituency)? So what if you don’t get re-elected? You will never lack for work or income.
Even if we don’t go so far as to ban all semi-automatic weapons (which I think is unlikely), regardless of whether it should be done—can we not seriously entertain a discussion focused on the type of semi-automatic weapons used so frequently in mass shootings? Some who have criticized me recently take umbrage at calling them “assault” weapons, as if that unfairly stigmatizes and miscategorizes them. So, let’s simply look at how easily they are used to inflict the type of human carnage that we have witnessed so often and so recently.
Arguments for gun ownership as an inalienable, moral, human right on the basis of the right to self-defense have finite elasticity and cannot stretch so far as to defend those weapons. They are utterly unnecessary for hunting or self-defense, regardless of the fact that they CAN be used for those purposes. I can also use a screwdriver or crowbar for self-defense if needed, as well as for many other creative purposes outside what they were invented to do. Yet, if in some bizarre, alternate universe people began to use screwdrivers and crowbars in a systemically and socially destructive fashion, why would we not put human ingenuity to work to invent other means of driving fasteners and gaining leverage? Such moves have actually been made many times in the manufacturing industry when a product design has become a public health hazard. There are plenty of other perfectly adequate options for both hunting and self-defense, other than the type of semi-automatic weapons that can be equipped with high capacity magazines and altered to function (with bump stocks) as fully automatic weapons.
Let’s be honest. Nobody needs one of those weapons for hunting or for self-defense. For those who use them safely and responsibly, they are simply fun—and I’ll be the first to admit that. I have used them (though I plan never to do so again, on grounds of principle) and they are a blast (pun intended)! Yet, for them to be accessible to the responsible public makes them accessible to the wrong people. No amount of background checking or database reporting can or will prevent that. The NRA’s call for more reporting and enforcement of existing laws ignores the fact that everyone who commits a crime commits one for the first time at some point. It is impossible to catch preemptively those who will commit shooting atrocities (or other atrocities) with the level of effectiveness presumed by those who appeal to this as the answer to the problem.