We love our guns. Like any love affair our passion for our weapons transcends logic and certainly evades explanation. And like any true love, what feels good is not always good, and our titillation hides the cause of the damage, if not the damage itself.
So it didn’t surprise me to read the passion of a man who should know better, explain away the damage wrought by a passion turned obsession.
Mr. Garlock in his column repeats the NRA ode to joy: that types of weapons don’t matter; that it’s all in the people; that society is sick and that the instruments of destruction are beside the point; that man will find a way to kill, whatever weapon is at his disposal and that we therefore should all arm ourselves with the latest and the greatest and the most efficient way of killing.
Do weapons matter? As a man who went to war, Mr. Garlock must have relished his army issue flintlock, or was it a bolt action ten shot Enfield 303? Was he given a M-1 Garand for his time in Vietnam? Did the army use smoothbore cannonball artillery? I think not.
We equip our armies with the best weapons possible to effect combat efficiency and that efficiency is directly dependent upon overcoming enemy combat forces which usually means killing the most of them the fastest way possible.
I simplify, but you get the point. Yes, we put weapons in the hands of our soldiers but the types of weapons actually do matter.
A weapon made to kill a lot of people very fast might be a rifle, lightweight, with not too long a barrel, a high rate of fire, a lethal but not extremely large or heavy projectile, a large magazine to reduce the frequency of reload, easily reloadable, and which does not easily jam when in either automatic or semi-automatic mode of fire. In other words it would look a lot like the easily obtainable assault rifle.
Mr. Garlock asserts that all weapons were made to kill and that there really is no sense in isolating certain weapons to call them “assault rifles.” I don’t believe that Mr. Garlock, nor legions of starry eyed gun lovers are being disingenuous. I do believe they have become dangerously myopic.
In the end the argument devolves to the perception that the only right in the Bill of Rights which has no restriction to it, is the 2nd Amendment. Curiously as a citizen of the United States you cannot, at this time, freely purchase a fully automatic weapon.
You may purchase one only after a process of background check and licensing and from what I understand it’s both expensive and expansive. You cannot under any circumstance purchase modern artillery like a surplus 155mm howitzer.
In their argument the NRA (and Mr. Garlock) do not lobby for the free ownership of these types of weapons. If in fact the weapon doesn’t matter but only the person who owns the weapon, why shouldn’t citizens be freely allowed to purchase any weapon they prefer?
Some believe they should, but realize the political danger in this argument because the type of weapon and its killing efficiency does in fact matter. A 155mm howitzer can accurately throw a 100-lb. high explosive round more than 15 miles. Lots of fun and great for killing deer but rather dangerous in the wrong hands.
The reason the murderer in Connecticut used a AR-15 type weapon is because it carried a lot of rounds, was light, had a pistol grip for close-in shooting, rapidly fired those lethal rounds and didn’t easily jam.
Each dead child had an average of 11 rounds pumped into him and her. Could the killer have done so with a .40 caliber Glock? Probably not, and again that’s the reason he used the assault rifle.
Mr. Garlock and his fellow gun passionistas tell us that these types of killings will persist no matter the law and that the answer is to arm teachers and place policemen in our schools.
Perhaps they are right at least partially. Our society has a peculiar sickness running through it and limiting assault weapons won’t cure that sickness.
On the other hand doing nothing assures the next atrocity and the one after. Killing efficiency does matter in the scope of these murders and our children and our society deserve our best efforts at limiting and preventing the next massacre.
As a gun owner I support the first step, which is to limit the sale and possession of assault type weapons and large magazines.
I also support the 2nd Amendment as I support the 1st Amendment. I don’t believe anyone has the right to petition the government in the middle of I-85 at rush hour and I don’t believe the 2nd Amendment means we can keep and bear any arms anywhere we like.
A reasonable limitation on modern military style weapons does not weaken the Second Amendment. However, constant resort to outlandish positions in the midst of a spate of massacres where military style weapons are vogue will indeed lead to intolerance on the part of a majority of Americans for any weapons.
And I believe if Mr. Garlock could for a second snap out of his love trance, as a reasonable and intelligent man he might recognize the damage his love affair wreaks on society and the 2nd Amendment.
Timothy J. Parker
Peachtree City, Ga.