As a conservative, I’m going to admit to a guilty pleasure — I love On Point with Tom Ashbrook, an NPR talk radio show based in Boston. Ashbrook covers fascinating topics, draws excellent guests, and is an effective and fair interviewer. This week Wade Goodwyn is filling in as host, and yesterday he focused on the gun control debate following the Aurora massacre. One of his guests, Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, kept making a demonstrably flawed argument: That civilian gun-owners would make mass shootings more dangerous. In fact, civilian gun-owners have stopped mass shootings in their tracks.
But that’s not the main topic of my post. I want to deal with the renewed call for an “assault weapons” ban. Again and again I hear a variation on the same argument: Assault weapons aren’t good for hunting, nor do you need a high capacity magazine for a shooting range, so let’s ban them. Here’s Jon Meacham Time:
My response is simple: Don’t tell me how to defend my family. We live in rural Tennessee (“when seconds count; the police are only minutes away”), we’ve already had one strange incident where a man came uninvited to our home demanding to talk to Nancy and me, and I can’t rely on police who will show up just in time to place yellow tape around the crime scene. Given my training and my comfort level with firearms, I prefer to use either a 9mm semi-automatic or my M4-variant AR-15 for home defense. Heck, I slept with those weapons when I was in Iraq, can strip and clean them with my eyes closed (well, almost), and can handle them comfortably and safely.
And I know this too: the kind of assault rifle used in the Aurora massacre — an AR-15, which is essentially a civilian version of the military’s M-16 — has no sporting purpose save playacting, in which the shooter is in some kind of combat situation. You don’t need an AR-15 to hunt, and you certainly don’t need the high-capacity magazine that was reportedly used even if your interest is target shooting on a range.
I know those choices may be tactically debatable (there’s good arguments for a shorter-barreled shotgun or a larger caliber pistol), but they work for me. As a husband and father, I feel a deep and sacred responsibility to protect my wife and children. And the idea that my ability to do so could or should be compromised because someone believes that my chosen weapon doesn’t have “sporting use” is, frankly, appalling.
I have no problems with background checks, with denying weapons to the mentally ill, or (critically) working to patch holes in a porous mental health system that allows all-too-many dangerous men and women to walk free. I do, however, have a problem with a mindset that would leave me potentially outgunned by criminals and — even worse — delegating my defense to brave men and women who (despite all their courage) couldn’t possibly help my family in the moments when we’d need them most.