What a weekend, eh? Two mass shootings, at least 31 people dead in Texas and Ohio, and a minimum of 52 people wounded in terrifying circumstances. The survivors have scars that will never heal.
And don’t forget that garlic festival in California, even though it was 11 whole days ago and that gunman only managed to kill three people.
We’re so numb to gun violence that it’s almost like reading the sports pages. The El Paso gunman killed 23 people so he’s No. 1 in the summer league standings. The gunman in Dayton, Ohio — and it’s always a man, isn’t it? — is second with nine, and that loser in Gilroy barely makes the podium.
C’mon, let’s admit it: Deranged gunmen can go nuts anywhere — an elementary school, a festival, or a Wal-Mart — and no meaningful gun control laws will be enacted as long as Republicans control the U.S. Senate. There are too many votes at stake, too much campaign cash to lose.
So we make do with thoughts and prayers. We cower, and we hope the next mass shooting happens somewhere else. It couldn’t happen here, could it?
Sure it could. In fact, it already has.
In 2007, a Moscow man named Jason Hamilton shot and killed his wife, then a Moscow police officer, and finally a church sexton. Hamilton also wounded a Latah County sheriff’s deputy and pumped a few bullets into an armed bystander who tried to intervene.
Fast forward to 2015 and a Moscow guy named John Lee shot and killed his adoptive mother, his landlord, and the manager of Arby’s restaurant. My wife was friendly with Lee’s adoptive mother, so her death touched us personally.
Both of these murderers got into their cars after each shooting and drove to confront their next victim. It was cold, deliberate, and methodical.
Sadly, there’s no shortage of angry men in America these days.
And there’s no shortage of guns.
Some are exquisite, collector-grade firearms, but many are stamped out en masse — cheaply made and cheaply sold. Too many to count.
So is it time for us, as a society, to declare today as the high-water mark for gun ownership in America? How about taking more guns out of circulation through voluntary buy-back programs than are allowed into circulation through legal sales?
How about we begin to drain the swamp of firearms in America?
Keep in mind that not all firearms are created equal. Most of America’s gun violence involves pistols, which are used in the majority of ho-hum shootings – baby shoots mother, robber shoots liquor store owner, husband shoots wife, etc.
Though less common, mass shootings that hit the front page require more sophisticated weaponry; quite often it is an AR-15 rifle chambered for .223-caliber ammunition. The bullets aren’t very big, usually just 55 grains (1/8th of an ounce), but they have a lot of gunpowder behind them and travel at more than 3,000 feet per second when they leave the gun. That’s faster than a mile every two seconds, so they hit with stunning force and gouge horrifying wounds into human flesh.
An AR-15 can fire bullets as fast as you can pull the trigger, so 10 rounds in four or five seconds is child’s play. But don’t worry about running out of ammo because plenty of on-line vendors will sell you 1,000 rounds for as little as $185. That’s less than 19 cents per shot!
If you need to shoot a lot of people in a hurry, then you’ll need high-capacity magazines so you can keep firing when other, less-savvy gunmen would stop to reload. Lots of vendors offer 30-round, .223-caliber magazines for less than $13 each. And you can tape them end-to-end to create a 60-round party clip!
As things stand, it’s all perfectly legal, and remember, most mass shooters are law-abiding guys.
Right up until the moment they aren’t.
Pullman resident William Brock is a lifelong gun owner who did a lot of target shooting with his father, who was an early member of the National Rifle Association.