Law Abiding Citizens and Their Lethality

I’m getting weary of the Republican refrain that the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens must be protected — presumably to own lethal weapons of war like the AR 15 and MCX.

We need to remember after each mass shooting that the “gun owner” was, as the almost cliched statement goes, “a law abiding citizen” until he wasn’t.  What the AR 15 and MCX rifles do is increase the lethality of mass shootings.   Not sure about this? Here’s a report from a hospital radiologist:

“In a typical handgun injury, which I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ such as the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass-shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?” [Atlantic]

The Atlantic article is difficult to read, and the examples cited by the author on the effects of high velocity bullets going through the bodies of adults and teenagers are disturbing.  Imagine for a moment the effect on those 6  year old children at Sandy Hook?  Exit wounds the “size of an orange.”  Children unidentifiable except for their clothing?  What I have yet to hear from the “Gun Club” is why civilians should possess weapons capable of such lethality.  And, we’ve known what kind of damage these guns do since 1977.

“Wounds inflicted by high velocity, center-fire rifles firing hunting ammunition are radically different from wounds caused by handguns or .22 rim-fire rifles. Injuries from pistol or .22 rim-fire bullets are confined to tissue and organs directly in the wound track. In contrast, high velocity rifle bullets can injure structures without actually contacting them. This is due to the temporary cavity produced by such missiles with the resultant shock waves having pressures of up to 200 atmospheres (20 MPa). Organs struck by such high velocity rifle bullets may undergo partial or complete disintegration.”  [NCBI January 1977]

41 years after the NCBI report a radiologist in Florida must remind us what these weapons do to human bodies.  However, the “Gun Club” will not admit that weapons like the AR 15 and MCX are more that mere “hunting rifles.”   It’s obvious a center fired high velocity firearm with a high capacity magazine is far more lethal than a criminal shooting a 9mm semi-automatic hand gun such as in the Fort Lauderdale example.

Not to make too fine a point to it, but what the NRA is saying to the American public is “law abiding citizens” should have the “right” to possess and use weapons which are designed for military use and which are capable of creating mass LETHAL casualties when used in public spaces. 

The Las Vegas shooter was a “law abiding” citizen until October 1, 2017 when he killed 59 people and injured 527 others.  He started shooting at 10:05 and ended the barrage at 10:15 PDT.  Again, 59 killed, 527 injured in 10 minutes.

The shooter at the the Sunderland, Texas, First Baptist Church killed 26 people and injuring 20 more on November 5, 2017.  He should never have had any firearm in the first place, his history as a domestic abuser was a matter of record.  However, records aside — what he purchased and used was a Ruger AR 556.

The shooter in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, used a SIG Sauer MCX and a Glock 17 9mm handgun on June 11, 2016 to kill 50 people, 38 of whom died at the scene.  Police reports indicated he had fired at least 110 rounds.

Variations on an Old Theme

Most of the “Gun Club” apologists are simply playing variations on the same old tune: “We can’t do anything about this.”  (Read: We don’t want to do anything about this because the military style rifles are popular)

Variation OneWhat we need to do is get these guns out of the hands of disturbed people.   And, so what do you propose?  Are these voices advocating mental health evaluations for every buyer of a center fire high velocity firearm with large magazine capacities?  This variation includes it’s very own instant objection.  No one would advocate the invasion of personal privacy required to perform these mental evaluations on every applicant for these weapons; ergo — we can’t do anything about this.

Variation Two: We can’t punish law abiding citizens for the sins of the few who misuse these weapons of war.   Punish?  I am not being “punished” because I cannot purchase an RPG 7 (rocket propelled grenade launcher.) Nor am I being “punished” because owning a Russian-Jordanian RPG 32 anti-tank grenade launcher is forbidden to me. I am being protected from those who would do me and fellow citizens harm if they use these things.

Variation ThreeWe must protect the 2nd Amendment.  Yes, why not.  However, as I’ve said time and again, no right is absolute.  At the risk of redundancy, I can’t “yell fire in a crowded theater,” there are limits to my freedom of speech; nor can I create a mob and call it “freedom” of assembly,” nor can I speak slander and print libel and call it protected by the 1st Amendment.

Until the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists come to the humane conclusion that weapons of war have no place in civilian society, we will continue to have very lethal “law abiding” people among us.

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