Ban assault weapons

Published 9:45 am Friday, July 1, 2016

Another day, another mass shooting.

This time it’s the worst shooting of all time with 50 dead. The country has been through this so many times that the reaction will be utterly predictable.

Politicians (at least the non-homophobe ones) will offer empty prayers and condolences, but won’t propose any action.

Some will make an issue of the fact that the shooter was a Muslim despite being born in the U.S. and having acted out what some so-called Christian pastors, like Stephen Anderson, have publicly advocated.

Gun manufacturers will quietly revel in the increased gun sales.

And the NRA will reach into its bag of worn myths and say something like, “If only they were armed,” or, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

This type of thinking is pure fantasy in that it ignores both common sense as well as human nature. Reality shows that a civilian with a gun has little to no chance of stopping a mass shooter.

First, unless you go through life like a Secret Service agent on presidential protection duty, a mass shooter will always get the drop on you. What’s much more to likely to happen will be similar to what the Seattle Times reported on Jan. 21. A man who was so afraid of a mass shooting he brought his gun to a movie theatre and ended up accidentally shooting a person sitting in front of him, according to the paper.

Second, since mass shooters’ weapon of choice is inevitably an assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine, you will be considerably out gunned. The Orlando shooter used a legally-obtained Sig Sauer MCX which gave him the ability to shoot 100 people in no time.

Third, just because you can hit a stationary paper target at a shooting range doesn’t mean you can accurately shoot in roomful of people where the lighting is low, it’s noisy, the adrenaline is flowing and your target refuses to stand still while firing at you.

A perfect example is the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. There, seven men fired 30 rounds in an area the size of large living room and only eight of the shots hit a target.

Finally, assuming you’re in a gunfight with a mass shooter and the police SWAT team shows up, how do the police know which of you is the bad guy?

No, the problem is the proliferation of cheap assault weapons that can be easily purchased by potential mass shooters.

The least we can do is make them more difficult to obtain. We should ban assault weapons and large magazines.

It won’t stop all mass shootings but it will definitely reduce the body count.

James Peca is a retired government analyst who lives in Farmville. His email address is