By Pete Beauregard
A few weeks ago, I saw a video advertising a firing mechanism capable of turning a semi-automatic rifle into a fully-automatic machine-gun. It was similar to a bump-stock, but smaller, and could fit onto the trigger guard. The speed at which those bullets were flying out of the barrel was frightening, and I felt compelled to share my anger that this kind of device was on the market.
I wrote a post on Facebook where I expressed my concerns about the amount of damage that could be done with this kind of device. Some of these devices are easily attained by mail order for less than $60 and are available in every state. Any one of these devices can really wreak havoc in the same manner committed by the Las Vegas mass murderer.
After thinking more about it, I decided to remove the post, out of fear that posting the link to the weapon attachment, and the potential of someone sharing the link without the context of my statement, may inadvertently lead to someone purchasing this device.
When I learned that the mass murderer in Las Vegas responsible for the deaths of 59 people, was using a device similar to the one I had only recently posted about, my heart sank. As a gun owner and candidate for the U.S. House Of Representatives, I think that having these devices on the open marketplace is unacceptable, and I think that now is the time that we, as Americans, have a serious conversation about gun safety and the gun culture in our beloved country.
No one should construe my words as an attack on the Second Amendment. I am a proud hunter and gun owner. I believe it is absolutely possible to balance our Second Amendment rights with public safety. In fact, let’s just tackle that issue first and foremost. I fully support the entire Bill Of Rights including the entire Second Amendment. It reads as follows:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Now, I’ll tell you that the NRA would love to forget about the first part of the Second Amendment. It is much easier to incite outrage in people if they feel that their “rights as Americans” are being infringed upon. The individuals who use these trigger-devices for their intended purpose, to plot these massacres and murder people, do not represent a well-regulated militia, nor do they secure our freedom. I would say that they do exactly the opposite.
The fact that these devices are available destroys the lives and the freedoms we hold dear. These devices and weapons threaten our religious liberty when they are used to shoot up a mosque or a Sheik temple, they threaten our freedom to have a good education when cops in schools need to check students’ bags for these kinds of weapons, and, most widespread, they threaten our freedom to live without the pervasive fear of being mowed down by some machine gun that has no place being away from the battlefield.
It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t need to be; we don’t need to amend the constitution to make it better.
One of the main problems is that the entire meaning of the Second Amendment has been warped by the gun manufacturing industry and its lobbyists and propagandists in the NRA. This industry spreads fear to their customer base and then makes runaway profits off of that fear when people rush to buy guns following every shooting that makes the national news.
By donating heavily to politicians, either directly through PACs or indirectly to supportive SuperPACs, they are essentially buying political favor when it comes to their votes on key gun legislation.
In all this, I must ask: where are the well-regulated militias? And, well-regulated by whom?
When the Second Amendment was formulated, the weapon of choice was a musket. I have no doubt how our Founders would feel about automatic weapons today. An automatic gun’s sole purpose is destruction and killing people, and it has no place in a civilized society.
The truth is that more than 90 percent of Americans — and even 80 percent of NRA Members themselves — agree on the same basic principles of common-sense gun legislation. These basics are: universal background checks, a renewed ban on military-grade assault weapons, as well as limiting the number of rounds in a magazine to 10.
What do we mean by “universal background checks”? In our current system, a resident of California can get around the background check laws in our state by driving to another state, purchasing a weapon at a gun show, then driving back to use the weapon here.
A ban on assault weapons means just that. These weapons are not the ones that are used by your average hunter or outdoorsman. These are military-grade assault weapons, made for hunting humans. As a medic in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam War, I have seen first-hand the damage done by these weapons. Regular people don’t go hunting with an AR-57.
A ban on high-capacity magazines. This gets back to the topic of “hunting humans.” In the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gunman was able to murder 20 kids in less than five minutes, because each magazine held 56 rounds. The terror at Sandy Hook ended in the same way that it did in Las Vegas. The gunman ultimately took his own life with a handgun. If a crazy gunman needs to reload their weapon after 10 rounds instead on 56, that will stop a lot of people from dying and allowing other people time to get away.
These three things are agreed upon, en mass, yet the NRA and their cronies seem to have mastered the “divide and conquer” method of one-issue voting in a way that is seldom seen with voters.
In the aftermath of each mass shooting, we react the same way: we send our “thoughts and prayers” as the media intensely scrambles to find out the identity of the gunman or the terrorist. They scrutinize their movements in the days and weeks leading up to the attack. We search for a reason behind their actions. Any reason to make sense of what happened and to make us feel safe .…
Any reason, of course, other than our nation’s destructive obsession with guns.
We look into ways to predict when something like this may happen again, as long as these methods don’t involve making any real changes to gun laws. We do everything except hold our leaders accountable for their failure to enact stronger gun legislation because they fear standing up to the NRA.
Through seatbelt regulations in the 1960s and ’70s, we reduced the number of fatalities in car accidents. In the early 1980s, Mothers Against Drunk Driving began to lobby Congress for tougher laws on driving under the influence, and the number of deaths caused by drunk driving has been reduced.
It makes sense that we could expect to see positive change in the number of fatalities by gun violence through the implementation of better safety regulations. While we may not be able to change the gun culture, we can make gun ownership safer for everyone.
In closing, I wanted to share a staggering statistic I heard today: 30,000 Americans die from gun violence annually. Thirty-thousand. Repeat that number to yourself again. Isn’t 30,000 deaths a year a little too costly? I think we all understand that 30,000 shouldn’t be the annual price tag of the Second Amendment.
The culture around guns needs to change, and the way we legislate guns needs to change because the way we deal with guns in this country does not in any way seem to be constitutional.
Pete Beauregard is a candidate for the 50th Congressional District seat.