As a former police officer, I believe people who have a qualified reason to own a firearm and who can demonstrate a level of mental stability should be able to own a firearm. However, those same people should not be able to buy any type of firearm they choose. The idea that an assault rifle is something that anyone can own as a hobby, or as a tool for hunting is ludicrous. Unless you are currently in the military and serving in a hostile environment, or are a qualified law enforcement professional within a specialized unit dealing with high-threat situations, there is no need for anyone to own this type of firearm.
The proverbial slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” that is trotted out every time the talk turns to banning these weapons is true. This refrain, however, if drawn out to its logical end, would be more complete if it went like this: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; but people with semi-automatic assault rifles can easily kill more people than those who only have access to firearms of lesser capacity.”
Obviously money plays a major role in why the Right to Bear Arms side pushes so hard to limit gun control. Selling firearms in the United States is a big business, just like cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. All of which are currently legal activities, but all of which have been proven to cause harm to many people. Cigarettes cause cancer, alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver, as well as other health problems, and gambling has torn families apart due to excess. The one thing they have in common is they all generate large sums of money for major corporations not only here in America, but around the world. The other facet of their argument comes from a fear that if they were to acquiesce to stricter gun control on assault weapons, the opposing side would then continue the fight and look to go after all their guns.
Looking at it from the other side, those who want stricter gun control (and to some extreme don’t want any weapons sold to ordinary people) is just as complex. They seem to believe that if all guns were taken away many of these tragic events would cease to occur. They are wrong, and the reason for their error is they want to blame the tool (assault weapons), not the real cause, which is mankind.
People have been killing each other since the first man walked the earth. There are many reasons for this — wealth, power, territory, the list goes on and on. In most cases some of these are legitimized by society if they are done for what we as a whole consider appropriate reasons. This same thought process is used by the criminal element within our society as well. Drug or rival gangs kill their adversaries for many of the same reasons (wealth, power or territory) that we as a country go to war.
However, these mass shootings do not fall into any of these categories. Having been a police officer and a private investigator for close to forty years, I have seen my share of tragedy. I can say the number one reason for these mass shootings is not a belief in an ideology, or any other sane or rational reason. The truth is, it is mental illness. If you were to really think about it, would anyone in their right mind commit such a horrific act as what happened in Orlando, or Sandy Hook?
We as a society always try to make sense out of things, it is no different during one of these mass shootings. We need to put things in a box that makes sense to us, and what makes us feel a little safer, even if it isn’t the truth. Having worked on crimes from homicide to acts of terrorism for a number of years I finally came to understand what the term “Ignorance is Bliss” really means. Most people would shutter themselves inside their homes if they knew some of what I and countless other law enforcement professionals know about society: that there are inherently evil people in this world, and those people will prey upon unsuspecting members of society for their own gain. This is only magnified by the ability of terrorist organizations around the world who convince the otherwise disenfranchised members of our society, or those who do not fit within the norm to take up arms and commit these terrible acts. When we as a society understand that mental illness is not easily identified, and needs to be treated properly, we might be able to reduce the number of senseless tragedies that occur.