By Senator Lena C. Taylor
With the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Texas, many question the constitutionality of civilians having unfettered access to AR-15 assault weapons. This rifle has been the armament of choice in a number of large-scale shootings recently. While ranging in price from $400 – $2000, gunman, as young as 18 years old, have been able to secure the weapon easily and legally.
State after state, with the help of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun lobbyists, we have nearly enshrined the classification of AR-15’s in the long gun/rifle category. As a result, 18-year-olds whose age disqualifies them from purchasing a handgun, can freely buy one of the most lethal weapons on the market. In a twisted irony for the justification of this availability, the lobbyists talk out of both sides of their neck.
They prey on white fears of urban gang violence and public safety, but then argue that lower-income, or otherwise disadvantaged, young people need the assault weapons to keep them from being violently victimized. In the meantime, gun advocates scream to the rafters that they have a constitutional right to bear arms. To be clear, the Second Amendment was added to the constitution nearly 3 years after it was ratified. The same way the language was added it can be modified, just as it was 88 years ago.
In 1934, the National Firearms Act and the 1938 Gun Control Act, restricted private citizen’s ability to have weapons they viewed as “gangster weapons”. Machine guns, aka “tommy guns,” silencers, and sawed of shotguns were regulated and taxed heavily. Even the Supreme Court upheld that the gun control provisions were legal.
Further, after a series of high-profile shootings in the 1960’s, to include the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there was support for banning mail-order sales and carrying loaded weapons in public spaces. We can thank the Black Panther Party, for the latter. The fear of Black people openly carrying firearms in public was so great that no one had a problem of limiting who could possess a firearm. The legislation was called the Gun Control Act of 1968. It was in this law that we got minimum age requirements for guns and bans in case of mental health issues. I guess you figured out where I’m going by now.
The argument about constitutionally guaranteed rights to carry any type of weapon is a sham. We have examples of at least 3 periods in American history, when we had sensible gun laws and controls. In case you were wondering, the third time came during the Viol¬ent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Better known as the 1994 crime bill, the law banned nineteen categories of semiautomatic assault weapons. These provisions were in place for at least ten years.
Understanding that the concept of “precedent” is being trampled on these days by legislators and potentially event the U.S. Supreme Court, you can’t argue facts. There is no guarantee that individuals have the right to own any type of weapon that they want. We have changed gun laws for the greater good and safety of our citizens, in years past. I would appreciate it so much better if people would just tell the truth. A segment of our population as decided that they can live with the outrageous loss of life associated with mass shootings.
They have looked at the pictures of the 19 children and two teachers and said they are not prepared to do anything to stop it. They have decided that grocery stores, churches, concerts halls, night clubs and schools are soft targets that we are not honestly willing to protect. They have decided that human life, no matter the age or situation, is the cost of doing the business of the gun lobby.