Pray, Mourn, Repeat: More Gun Violence

Pray, Mourn, Repeat: More Gun Violence


Leonard Zwelling

This blog has tried to walk the fine line down the middle on many controversial issues. These have included abortion, voting rights and, of course, gun ownership.

It is still true that very few of the mass murders that plague the country are committed with regular hunting rifles. The usual weapon of choice is a semi-automatic or converted automatic assault-style weapon or handgun. Why? Because a regular hunting rifle has one purpose—kill a deer with a single shot—and a semi-automatic weapon has another—kill as many people as fast as possible.

This leads to the ineluctable conclusion that hunting rifles and most handguns have legitimate purposes in a civilized society and semi-automatic assault-style rifles do not. Therefore, it seems reasonable that Congress should uphold the Second Amendment and allow Americans to bear arms like shotguns, long rifles and handguns for hunting and personal protection and ban semi-automatic assault-style weapons and on-line ordering of conversion kits that can make a safe weapon a lethal one. And while we are at it, let’s ban on-line sale of ammunition and require background checks on all weapon sales even if that sale is at a gun show.

None of these suggestions is repressive nor denies anyone access to a gun. It will however make it less likely that a mentally disturbed person or ex-felon will get a gun and that mass shootings as occurred in Buffalo last week and Uvalde this week will become rarer. Will these rules eliminate mass shootings? Probably not. There is evil and prejudice in some hearts and those hearts have arms that get arms and use them in nefarious ways. This will not be stopped any more than crime in general can be stopped. But the Congress can make the job of the police easier and make these recurrent mass killings less likely.

To do this will require great courage from Congress, a group not known for that trait at all. I believe that most Americans would back laws that curtail the likelihood of these seemingly endless tragedies yet allow most America gun owners access to their weapons. I have been very impressed with how many of the people I know have guns. I have no idea why they do (except for the hunters), but they feel in better control with a handgun in the house or just like to shoot.

I explored this activity many years ago for the first time when there was a series of kick-in burglaries occurring in our neighborhood. Our children were young when I went to a local gun range and learned how to shoot a revolver. I was so taken with the power of the weapon that I wanted no part of it being in my house.

Years later, when my kids were gone, I was advised that my life might be in danger for things I had written on a blog and once again explored the possibility of buying a gun. I took detailed lessons and got certified to carry a concealed weapon. I decided against buying one again. I was sure that if I ever I was forced into using the gun, I would likely be shot myself or shoot the wrong person. I have not been trained in weapons use under life and death circumstances as my military service was in the United States Public Health Service in Bethesda, Maryland at the NIH.

The one time I was asked to use a gun under stress was when I was in Leadership Houston training and tried the “shoot or don’t shoot” drill at the Houston Police training facility north of Bush Airport. There, police who were also actors, put you through scenarios where you were the responding officer to a crime scene and had to determine what to do and when to use your blank-firing weapon. I shot a cop and was shot myself once. The data suggest I would be a poor performer under pressure with a gun.

This blog has repeatedly called for reasonable gun control laws that would preserve the rights of hunters and private citizens wishing personal protection while eliminating the availability of assault-style weapons to the public. We stand by that and will do so until the cycle of pray, mourn, repeat ends.

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