Our staff had questions following the mass shooting in Las Vegas. So we asked our resident ammunitions specialist to help us out.
Q: What do you think about requiring gun owners to be licensed and insured like drivers?
I’m not opposed to requiring licensing and insurance for gun owners. If we required competency testing prior to allowing people to purchase weapons, like we do prior to allowing people to drive on the roads, it could help prevent negligent deaths.
Q: What are your thoughts on a non-governmental organization to do accreditation for places where gun users practice and train?
I’m fine with any entity providing training so long as they are reliable. I don’t think government being in charge or not being in charge is going to make a lot of difference. Some programs the government runs decently, some it doesn’t.
Q: What are the chances that a right wing or leftist paramilitary group has with weapons legally available against the military/government?
If the government/military came down full force on any paramilitary group they’d have zero chance of long term survival. Standard weapons and munitions that civilians can acquire aren’t anywhere near as powerful as what is at the government’s disposal. Think AR-15 vs Javelin Missile. Souped up trucks vs up-armored MRAPs with mounted .50 cal machine guns and MK-19 automatic grenade launchers. The only reason we have so much difficulty in the Middle East right now is because it’s REALLY hard to kill ideology, especially in a part of the world that has next to nothing but that ideology. Here in the US? There aren’t a whole lot of people adhering to extremist ideologies and any “serious” insurgency would be snuffed out pretty quickly.
Q: If you were in charge of bringing a piece of gun control legislation to the floor, what would be on it that’s a deal-breaker? In other words, what does a successful, bipartisan, commonsense gun control bill look like in your eyes?
Everybody wants gun legislation surrounding mental health. While that makes sense on the surface it’s incredibly difficult to actually enact. Think of it this way. If we make it so you lose your right to your weapons if you have mental health problems, how likely do you think people that already have weapons are going to be to seek mental health assistance if the need arises? I honestly don’t know what we could do surrounding that particular issue. Perhaps required annual screenings for ownership? Even then, that’s not going to catch most instances and there’s a solid argument about that being an unreasonable infringement on 2nd Amendment rights. I haven’t heard a great way to handle the mental health aspect of it yet, and haven’t personally thought of a way to do that.
Things that I could and would definitely get behind are required training for purchases, extended background checks, and licensing. Also, I believe we need much tougher punishments regarding negligence. For instance, there was a woman, I believe in Michigan, who opened fire at a suspected shoplifter in a parking lot in the middle of the day. She clearly showed a major lack of good decision making and I wouldn’t want her ever gaining the right to carry again, but, as I remember, she’d be eligible again after a few years. There was a recent instance where a grandmother left a loaded pistol in her purse and her 4 year-old granddaughter found it and killed herself. In cases like this I believe mandatory prison time should be included. Too often, things like this happen and there isn’t enough of a punishment to make sure people understand that the consequences of their actions can bear criminal ramifications. If someone accidentally kills someone through drinking and driving we have no problem throwing them in prison. It should be the same if someone accidentally kills someone through mishandling of a weapon they’re responsible for.
Q: Data shows that the more guns that are in a country or state, the more gun related deaths. What can we do to change American culture to discourage gun ownership without angering those who already own them?
We have a hero problem in our culture. Everybody wants to be the hero, and as such, it increases the amount of people that want to carry. As stated, the more people carrying, the higher the likelihood for gun violence. Also, we have a fear problem. So many people are afraid for whatever reason and want that extra protection, never mind the fact that the chances that anyone will ever actually need a weapon at any point in their life for protection is astronomically small. People don’t often deal in likelihoods and they let their emotions get the better of them in regards to these types of things. Look at how popular “prepping” has become while there still has yet to be a reason for it, despite many predictions through years. I think these types of instances are our biggest barriers. If more people dealt with likelihoods and probabilities, as opposed to their fear or their want to be a hero, less people would feel the need to buy/carry weapons.
Q: If we couldn’t find common ground under Obama after Sandy Hook, do you foresee any chance that we find common ground under Trump after Las Vegas? If so, how does that conversation start?
The simple answer is no. If Obama couldn’t get the nation together for gun control reform after the killing of small children, a person who’s infinitely more divisive won’t be able to do it for concert goers.
Q: What do you think causes the American obsession with firearms and gun culture? Why is it normal for one family in small-town Iowa to own more than a dozen guns?
There are still a number of people that hunt, especially in more rural areas. There are people that still do that for a main source of food. But having so many? I already touched on that a little. Hero worship and fear. Fear of the government coming to take their guns. Wanting to be the hero that can stave them off if they do come.
A bit about me:
I served active duty in the Army for nearly 5 years as an ammunition specialist. As such I got to see and work with a lot of different munitions that are available to the military (which is why I can confidently say that no small militia group in the US could stand a fight vs the Army.)