24 Rounds in Nine Seconds

24 Rounds in Nine Seconds June 17, 2016

24 rounds in nine seconds. No civilian needs a gun capable of discharging 24 rounds of ammunition in nine seconds, and yet that’s what the Daily Mail reported a few days ago. I did not run into that particular article until late this morning and those numbers have been haunting me ever since.

I don’t hate guns. I have friends who are gun owners, and they are responsible gun owners. I don’t think every person with a gun is an asshole or a threat to society. The majority of gun owners in the United States are good people. They are our neighbors, our family members, and often our friends. There are liberals who own guns as well as conservatives. There are even many Pagans who own guns. I don’t hate guns.

"Eternity" by Vincent Van Gogh.  From WikiMedia.
“Eternity” by Vincent Van Gogh. From WikiMedia.

But I do hate how easy it is to get certain kinds of guns. Did you know there’s a waiting period for handguns in the state of Florida but not for assault semi-automatic rifles? This is from Rolling Stone:

In addition to the .233-caliber assault weapon that helped Mateen carry out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, he had a 9mm Glock 17 handgun as well. He could have left the store immediately with the former, but needed to wait three days to pick up the latter because Florida law imposes a mandatory waiting period on any firearm “capable of being carried and used by one hand.” The waiting period does not apply to guns that you need two hands to hold, like the Sig Sauer MCX. Some additional caveats apply: You don’t need to wait three days if you trade in one handgun for another, or if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Mateen, who worked as a security guard, did, but the owner of the St. Lucie Shooting Center said he observed the waiting period nonetheless.

In my mind that’s just messed up. We make people jump through more hoops for boner pills than we do certain types of guns. When the US Constitution was written a solider with a musket was able to fire three shots a minute, so twenty seconds a shot. There’s no way the framers of the Constitution ever imagined 24 rounds in nine seconds.

When my friends from the UK and Australia read about American gun culture they often seem perplexed by it. I’ll admit that I am too, but guns are a part of our national story. Part of that is probably because our country is so damn new, it’s hard to romanticize the sword when your soldiers and Presidents never used one. We were born in the age of gunpowder and have never overcome it.

There’s no way America is ever going to ban guns, and I’m not sure I’d ever ask anyone to. However, we can (and most definitely should) stop throwing guns out like candy. Would I love to see weapons like the AR-15 banned? You better believe it. No one’s using that protect their house or family, or to go hunting. And if you need such a weapon for you hunting trip you are most likely an awful shot and should just stay home.

But if we are going to continue to sell weapons like the AR-15, maybe there should be some hoops? If you are a wife beater then you don’t get a gun. If you’ve been investigated for terrorist sympathies maybe you don’t get a gun for a little while. If you are a law abiding citizen what’s there to be scared of? (And don’t bitch to me about this on Facebook, if you were truly worried about your “privacy” you wouldn’t be on social media.)

“Liberals” aren’t hysterically trying to take anyone’s guns away, but many liberals do want to keep guns out of the hands of potential terrorists, the violent, and the mentally ill. If there’s ever a “no gun buy” list will it contain mistakes? Of course it will, we are far from perfect. But mistakes can be fixed, we can’t bring people back from the dead. Being inconvenienced for a few days or a few weeks is nothing compared to a parent losing their child.

Are guns strictly to blame for Orlando? Of course they are not. Tragedies are nuanced, but if Sunday morning’s shooter had gone into Pulse with just a handgun and a knife there would not have been 49 dead that night.

On social media, I keep reading from my “no restrictions or lists ever” friends how their civil liberties might be eroded if there were a “no buy” list. Living in America requires compromises. You can’t legally drive 120 miles an an hour in your car or drop acid at your local bar. As a nation we agree to certain rules that will most likely help everyone. We don’t always get it right, but we try.

If you need an AR-15 then you should be prepared to jump through several hoops and wade into some red tape. If that’s not enough perhaps you can simply keep one at the shooting range? If it’s that important to some of you, I want you to have options. But you’ll understand if I want to at least try and keep that same gun away from a murderer.

There are no easy solutions when it comes to these issues. A “no buy” list will not end mass murder in the United States, but what we are currently doing is obviously NOT WORKING. I don’t want to hear about your civil liberties I want to hear about solutions to this problem, and if you can’t offer me those I don’t want to hear it.

24 rounds in nine seconds. No civilian ever needs to do that again.

Our thoughts, prayers, and activism are with the victims of Orlando, their families, and the LGBTQ Community.

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