Column: We do not need automatic weapons in this country

Tom Jenkins, Managing Editor

After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, one question needs to be asked: When will it be time to actually create legislation towards stopping these mass shootings? The New York Times shared an article that lists all of the mass shootings in the U.S. since 2007, with 27 since Blacksburg, Virginia.

The Virginia Tech attacks shocked this country with the deaths of 30 people and injuries of many others, but, since then, we have become a divided country on an issue that should be as clear as day. We do not need automatic weapons in this country. Or, an even better way of putting it, we have lost the right to own them.

This isn’t a call to action to say the government should take Americans’ guns, but maybe just a plead for a little civility for the fate of this country. Yes, it’s true that some of these shootings have been done with illegally obtained weapons. But not the Las Vegas, Dallas or Orlando shooters, who had all purchased their weapons legally. Those, by the way, are the last three U.S. “terrorist” attacks by Americans in order.

The Las Vegas Police Department reported that the shooter had 20 rifles in his hotel room alone, that’s not including the 18 weapons and explosives found at his home in Nevada. That makes 38 legally purchased guns, most of them being automatic weapons. It’s very easy to say, “Well, who needs that many guns?”

But that’s not the issue. The issue is that he was able to purchase that many guns. Why was this not a red flag? Because it was his Second Amendment right, right? I’m sure that when the Founding Fathers wrote that amendment, they didn’t assume someone would need a small armory of 38 guns to protect themselves from “the state.”

But, I’m sure many will agree with Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, that this isn’t an appropriate time to discuss legislation. But when will it be alright to create a law that will prevent the sale of automatic rifles?

Yes, it’s not fair for those who own guns and use them appropriately and do not have murderous intentions. It’s also not fair to all of the people who so happened to be randomly selected to die in mass shootings. It’s not fair to the 59 families and counting who have to bury their loved ones this week.

To frustrated gun owners, think of it like this: When you would rough house as a kid and you hurt someone, your mom would say, “It’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt.” Well, people are hurt, and the playing with automatic weapons needs to stop.

You aren’t allowed to use them to hunt, so what are they needed for?  For recreational use? Maybe it’s time to rethink your idea of fun, if it’s the same activity used to shoot 527 people in a crowd. 

Unfortunately, the use of automatic weapons has come to a tipping point. It’s no longer just some deranged person shooting these people, its people who are angry and have a motive. It’s unfortunate that it takes something like this tragic incident to send the message home.

These shooters are buying these guns legally, and these victims are often completely different. Orlando was the Pulse Night Club, a known gay night club, Dallas was the death of police officers and Las Vegas was just a huge group of people listening to a country music concert.

No matter your political beliefs, it should be easy to see that these attacks are not stopping and are only getting bigger. You have a choice: continue to fight legislation that would protect all of us so you can keep your occasional hobby of shooting up some targets, or have a sense of common decency and realize that automatic weapons should stay in the hands of soldiers and police officers who are trained to defend our country.

Tom Jenkins can be contacted at [email protected].