Funny how politics makes strange bedfellows, doesn’t it? Way back when, sometime around 2007 or so, I sent a donation to moveon.org because they were running a campaign against the Iraq War, in particular the escalation of the war known as the ‘surge.’ And to explain and justify the strategy, none other than General David Petraeus was brought back from the battlefield to explain what was going on to various Congressional committees on the Hill. And the fundraising request I received from moveon.org started off by saying, “Here comes Petraeus, don’t let him betray us.” I thought this was very funny so I sent moveon.org a few bucks.
So now it’s a different time, a different place and I got Petraeus and Mark (Gabby’s husband) Kelly coming together to form a new gun-control organization which, like all the Gun Violence Prevention groups, is trying to attract more attention to the gun violence problem in the wake of the Orlando shooting last week. And I was about to give the Petraeus-Kelly combine my award for this week’s most significant addition to the roster of organizations and activities that are promoting gun violence prevention except that another horse coming out of the moveon.org stable caught my eye instead.
What I am referring to is a petition on the moveon.org website which calls for the banning of all AR-15 guns. And what I like about this petition is that it’s simple and direct: “We need to ban all assault weapons now, while moving quickly to enact common sense gun reform.” The petition doesn’t call for redesigning the guns, or removing the hi-cap mags, or any other small reform like that. It says ban ‘em, period. End of story. Throw them all away, or melt them down and turn them into useless junk.
And not only does the petition call on the government to ban the damn things, it also refers to these weapons by their rightful name, assault weapons, because that’s exactly what they are. And if you happen to be someone who really and truly believes that the AR-15 or the Sig MCX whatever nomenclature is used to avoid the word ‘assault’ isn’t an ‘assault rifle,’ do me a favor and go lay brick. Because it really doesn’t matter whether the first assault rifle was a gun produced for the Wehrmacht near the end of World War II, whether it fires in full-auto or semi-auto mode, whether anything other than a machine gun is covered by 2nd-Amendment rights, blah, blah, blah and blah.
The gun is lethal as hell, you can kill 60 human beings with it in less than 60 seconds without even reloading the damn thing, and if anyone thinks that such guns will protect freedom-loving Americans from the dangers of ISIS or the tyranny of another Clinton regime, then this is someone with whom a reasonable conversation about guns or anything else simply cannot take place.
And frankly, this is usually a big part of the problem whenever the Gun Violence Prevention community takes a stand. Because they are always, despite what Gun-nut Nation says about them, so damn reasonable whenever they argue any position at all. For example, today’s online medical bulletin JAMA contains a new study on the effects of Australia’s 1999 assault weapons ban which clearly shows that once assault rifles disappeared from the civilian arsenal in Australia, mass shootings disappeared as well. But in an accompanying editorial, Daniel Webster, one of our foremost public health gun researchers, made sure to mention that evidence showing a direct cause-and-effect between the assault weapons ban and overall gun homicides was not so clear.
And maybe the data on assault weapons and homicides isn’t so clear. But so what? If we accept the crazy notion that a semi-automatic gun which can kill 60 people in one minute is no different from any five-shot rifle that is used to bag a deer, then there’s no reason to be upset about Orlando at all. Sign the petition, okay?