Updated: Sep 12
I grew up on a farm outside of Lovilia, helping my family raise crops and livestock. I hunted and fished in the surrounding country. My father taught me early about gun safety and how to be responsible with a gun, lessons that I have tried to instill in my own sons. I owned guns then, and I own guns now. I am a patriot. I love my country and my fellow Americans. I don't believe our country is always the best, but I do believe that at times we can be, which is why I am writing this letter.
On Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 a young man walked into a school in Uvalde, Texas and shot 19 children and two teachers with an AR-15 style assault rifle, killing them all. We have all heard this story, unfortunately, over and over for years now.
This recent event, along with every other like it, has ignited a firestorm of dissenting opinions about how to deal with these tragedies. I have some thoughts that I would like you to consider.
The concept of "I want" is one that children are born with before their parents teach them to consider the needs of others. “I want” epitomizes selfishness for most of us; as adults we understand it is not an emotion that should ever override the rights of another human. As many of us learned in Sunday school, when becoming an adult "(we) put away childish things," because we learned that our actions impact others. We are taught to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Let's be clear, no one needs an AR-15. There is no useful place for this gun that isn’t filled by a more specific weapon. Can you hunt deer with an AR-15? Of course. But there are a multitude of guns designed for hunting which are far superior and far safer for our friends and neighbors. Can you protect your home with an AR-15? Again, the answer is yes, and again, there are any number of guns that are far better suited to the job, guns that would be even more effective and far less likely to accidentally kill innocents in the next room, the next building or a half mile away.
On the left, the M-16, issued to the armed forces, illegal to purchase as a private citizen. On the right, the AR-15 - it is estimated there are more than 10,000,000 in private hands.
The AR-15 is an assault rifle and as such, is designed specifically to kill as many people as possible as quickly and efficiently as possible. The success of that design has been devastatingly evident in every mass shooting where they have been used, even by the inexperienced operator.
When we say 'I want an assault rifle', we are living as a child, unwilling to see the impact of our decisions on our fellow citizens.
The assertion that owning this type of gun should be a constitutional right is one that makes them available to everyone, including the child murdering sociopath that potentially lives down the street.
The children in the school in Uvalde, Texas had a right to life that was stolen from them. Most adults would agree that these children had MORE of a right to live because there was so much in front of them. Most adults would give their lives to save a child.
And yet, we haven’t yet been able to place the lives of these children before the desire for a gun.
Americans have rightly been proud that we value each individual’s rights, it is one of the things that has set our country apart. However, in recent decades, our view of our individual rights has become monstrously warped. We have slowly forgotten that rights come with the responsibility to consider what is best for our families, our communities, and our nation. Now many of us only see our own rights. These 19 children died because their fellow citizens “want” to own assault weapons and have decided it is their own “right.”
And so I ask you to think, at what point does a gun owner's “I want” become more important than the rights of an American child to live a full life?
The AR-15 is a weapon of war and should be regulated as such. To refuse to do so makes every one of us culpable in the mass murders so regularly visited upon our nation since Columbine in 1999.
Granted, an assault weapons ban is only part of the solution and considering the number of weapons already out there, it would take decades to come to fruition. Yet, it is a beginning.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Heed the verse: It is time to give up our childhood obsession with assault weapons. Put it away and save those who will suffer the next inevitable round of slayings if we do not.