Adkins: Gun violence in America, Part 4

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Michael Adkins

It required DNA to identify several of the children massacred at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school. Let that soak in before reading further. The gunman, using a military style semi-automatic weapon, an AR-15, mutilated children’s bodies to the point their parents could not recognize them.

AR-15s are capable of being every bit as destructive as an automatic weapon. Whenever an article criticizes the right of civilians to carry an AR-15 or similar weapon, gun advocates point out they are not automatic weapons, totally ignoring the damage they do. An owner’s manual notes that an AR-15 can fire 40 rounds per minute. Other sources say they are capable of nearly 60 rounds per minute.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican combat veteran wrote that he used a very similar weapon in combat.

“I have fired tens of thousands of rounds through that rifle, many in combat,” Mast wrote. “We used it because it was the most lethal — the best for killing our enemies. And I know that my community, our schools and public gathering places are not made safer by any person having access to the best killing tool the Army could put in my hands. I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend.”

Infantry soldiers are trained to use their rifles in semi-automatic mode because of the improved accuracy it delivers. A U.S. Army training manual notes the “most important firing technique during fast-moving, modern combat is rapid semiautomatic fire,” and “it is surprising how devastatingly accurate rapid semiautomatic fire can be.” And yet a majority of elected Republicans oppose banning or even regulating an AR-15 or similar semi-automatic weapons.

Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, a pediatric trauma surgeon, says that injuries from this type of weapon are “almost unsurvivable, essentially,” because of the significant damage the bullets cause to the victims. One reason they are so deadly is that victims are hit by more than one high velocity bullet, with multiple injuries at a time, and the cavitation effect is considerably wider. When a bullet from this type of weapon penetrates the body, the large cavity it creates causes significant bleeding and completely destroys soft tissue and organs.

Dr. Bindi is one of many physicians who utilize social media in a campaign to reduce gun violence. They use the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane, which came out of an NRA tweet that read, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Some gun rights advocates tell us how popular they are for hunting. Hunters themselves find the rifle controversial, with some arguing AR-15-style rifles empower sloppy, “spray and pray” hunters to waste ammunition. As one hunter put it in the comments section of an article on americanhunter.org, “A hunter does not need a semi-automatic rifle to hunt, if he does, he sucks, and should go play video games. I see more men running around the bush all cammo’d up with assault vests and face paint with tricked out AR’s. These are not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors.”

We must ask owners of semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, do you, deep down in your heart, truly believe your “right” to carry a military style weapon is more vital than the safety of our children? When will logic overcome your “never give an inch” philosophy?

Even the late Justice Scalia admitted the Second Amendment does not ban regulations of firearms. The vast majority of Americans want weapons like the AR-15 banned. Eliminating military style firearms will protect lives. It won’t end America’s horrendous record of gun deaths but it will be a common-sense step in the right direction.

Michael Adkins formerly was chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. Send comments to [email protected].