The recent increase in mass shooting incidents across the country comes as no surprise to anyone with an ounce of common-sense. The ease of purchase, and relatively low-cost, of assault-style weapons, particularly AR-15 semi-automatics with large-capacity magazines, makes it possible for anyone to become a mass murderer. And make no mistake about it, the purpose of high capacity magazines in assault weapons is to reduce the time it takes to reload, thereby increasing the time in engaging the target, ensuring that a mass murderer can kill and maim large numbers of victims in a matter of seconds. It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of mass shootings occur in states with lax gun laws. Texas, Georgia, and other Southern states impose virtually no restrictions on the purchase and sale of these weapons that are designed to kill and maim as many people as quickly as possible.
Up to now, Massachusetts and many other states with stronger gun laws fortunately have been fairly insulated from such incidents. However, that soon may change. It has long been the goal of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby to invalidate what those groups consider to be restrictive gun laws in violation of the Second Amendment in every state. They want every citizen in the country to be able to buy whatever gun they want, whenever they want, and to be able to carry loaded firearms in public all the time and everywhere. The NRA basically has adopted Archie Bunker-reasoning. (Archie’s solution to solving the airplane hijacking problem of the 1970s was to give every passenger a gun when they boarded so that they could “get the drop” on the would-be hijacker). The NRA’s long-cherished dream of an AR-15 in every household took a big step forward two weeks ago with a decision by a federal judge striking down California’s ban on the sale of assault-style weapons that has been in effect since 1989. The judge began his opinion with these words: “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Firearms deemed as ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.” Obviously, even comparing an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife is ridiculous on its face — we’ve never heard of a mass murderer using a knife as a weapon — but what in our view was really chilling was the judge’s words stating that an AR-15 is useful as a “homeland defense weapon.” That wording mimics what the gun crowd (the type of guys who like to dress up in camouflage) sees as the principal argument in favor of lax gun laws: That ordinary citizens will need these weapons in order to defend our country against the possibility of a foreign invading army. That argument likewise is nonsense, but it’s what animates the gun types who like to play soldier — and obviously was among the reasons for the judge’s decision striking down the California statute. The state is appealing this judge’s ruling. Ultimately, this question will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. However, given the present make-up of the court, we would bet even-money that the court will strike down the California statute — and when that happens, it will be open season on innocent Americans all across the country for mass murderers.