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We don’t need civilian weapons of destruction

We have had enough massacres to spur Congress to take action and ban these weapons of mass murder.

By Mickie Shaw, Multimedia Editor

The Las Vegas Music festival massacre, 2017, 58 killed; Pulse nightclub massacre, 2016, 49 killed; Sandy Hook elementary school, 2012, 27 killed; Texas First Baptist church, 2017, 26 killed; Walmart Massacre, El Paso, 2019, 22 killed; this list of 182 victims of mass shootings is only a partial list of mass shootings from 2012 to August 2019 that involved semi automatic assault rifles. I cannot list the entire 21 massacres which totaled 221 dead and over 740 injured in the space of this piece. The common denominator of all of these mass shootings is semiautomatic assault rifles were used, including AR-15s and AK-47s.

Semi automatic assault rifles in the civilian world are called modern sporting rifles — a rather benign sounding name for weapons of war. The rifle used in the Pulse nightclub massacre was originally designed for U.S. Special Operations forces. If there is any hope of putting an end to or even slowing down the number of mass shootings with horrifically high body counts, a ban of semi automatic assault style weapons and their large capacity magazines should be made the law of the land.

Joseph Vince, a former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who now works as a gun crime consultant said in an interview with NPR, “You’re talking, really, a weapon of mass destruction that you’re giving over the counter to anybody.”

The last, and only, time semiautomatic assault weapons were banned was in 1994 with the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. The Act banned 20 types of semiautomatic assault weapons, large capacity magazines, various accessories, gun modifications, and gave a definition of what an assault weapon was, but unfortunately the act grandfathered in weapons and LCM magazines that were purchased before the ban was enacted.

This grandfather provision effectively blunted the intended effect of the Act — to reduce the amount of gun violence. However, a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found, “Mass-shooting related homicides in the United States were reduced during the years of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994 to 2004.” Mass shootings since the ban ended in 2004 have gone up.

The new 2019 assault weapons ban proposed by congress is similar to the 1994 ban and even has the same loopholes. Weapons and magazines owned before the ban are grandfathered in. The new ban should not grandfather in rifles or LCMs, and a mandatory gun by back should be enacted by the federal government. These are weapons of mass destruction and should not be available or sold to just anyone.

Colt firearm manufacturer has just announced they will no longer produce their AR-15 for civilian use. This is great news, and I hope other gun manufacturers follow Colt’s example.

A review of mass shootings data (the data was collected by Mother Jones magazine) done by Axio news site revealed since 2017, 12 of 31 mass shootings involved the killers using semiautomatic assault rifles, creating 39 percent of the deaths and 92 percent of the injuries. The U.S. is averaging 3 mass shootings using semiautomatic assault rifles every year since 2012. Since 1999, the year the Columbine High School massacre took place, there have been 115 mass shootings killing 941 people and injuring 1,431. In just over a quarter of the shootings the weapons of choice were semiautomatic rifles. Those attacks alone caused 40 percent of all the deaths and 69 percent of all injuries.

The lethality of assault weapons outfitted with large capacity magazines, the Dayton, Ohio killer who had a drum magazine that held 100 rounds and killed nine people in 32 seconds, is obvious in Axios’ study. Scores of innocent victims are mowed down like blades of grass with these weapons of war.

America needs an assault weapon and large capacity magazine ban. These mass shooting numbers are real people and real lives. Their deaths call out for a major change to this nation’s gun laws.


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