After Orlando, it’s simple: Ban AR-15 rifles

Ever since the tragedy in Orlando last weekend, I’ve been trying to think of something to say in a post. All I can come up with is that Congress sucks. What is up with not banning AR-15 guns from civilian use?

Not to single him out, but as I sought words I found myself thinking about a recent post Rep. Bruce Poliquin put up on Facebook. He was referring to transgender bathrooms and called the idea “intrusive and unsafe.” Want to know what is more “intrusive and unsafe” than transgender people using the bathroom of their choice? AR-15s in movie theaters, elementary schools, workplaces and bars.

Gunsmith, Frank Cobet, of the Get Loaded gun store in Chino, Calif., shows a customer an AR-15 rifle on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Gunsmith, Frank Cobet, of the Get Loaded gun store in Chino, Calif., shows a customer an AR-15 rifle on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Exactly how many people have to be mowed down during the normal course of human events like going to a movie, school, work or a bar on a Saturday night before our elected officials clue into the idea that AR-15s and other high-capacity magazine weaponry don’t belong in civilian hands? I am a firm supporter of Second Amendment rights, but it seems like common sense that weapons like the AR-15 have only one purpose: to kill as many people in as short a time as possible. No civilian needs to achieve that purpose.


I just saw a clip of Bill O’Reilly and Stephen Colbert, representative of political television’s right and left, agreeing that Congress should ban certain types of weaponry from civilian use.

And I was glad to hear that Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut criticized his colleagues for their inaction on assault weapons. Even better, three Democratic congressmen from Connecticut walked out of the moment of silence scheduled by the House of Representatives to honor the victims in Orlando.

I’m guessing those members of the Connecticut delegation had their fill of moments of silence after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. They know firsthand that moments of action, not moments of silence, are what’s needed. Had Congress banned the sale of AR-15s shortly after Sandy Hook, the gunman involved in the Orlando shooting wouldn’t have been able to obtain one so easily and legally mere days before slaughtering 49 people and injuring dozens of others.

To say nothing of the risk this type of weapon presented to law enforcement responding to the active situation in Orlando. Or the psychological damage this weapon wreaks upon survivors and first responders. AR-15s and high-capacity magazines have no place in civilian life, and it’s that simple.

If our elected officials are worried that a few extremist gun rights folks might cry that such a restriction is an attack on their rights and will keep them from using such guns for target practice, then let them cry. Let them cry their eyes out. Let them cry pools of tears because their pools of tears are preferable to the pools of blood left by a massacre involving semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity magazines.

I’d much rather watch AR-15 toting people cry over the loss of their guns than watch people sobbing over the corpses of their friends, loved ones, children, colleagues and students. Again, it’s that simple.

If our elected officials are worried that the National Rifle Association will make their political lives miserable if they take such action, then they should have the courage to admit to acting out of that fear. They should admit that their fear of the NRA is so great that they are willing to let Americans get mowed down by AR-15s rather than risk the wrath of a nonprofit representing roughly 5 million people. Yes, 5 million people who make up less than one tenth of all gun owners and an even tinier percentage of the overall American population.

After the next mass shooting, and there will be another as long as these weapons are so readily available, our senators and representatives should spare us all their moments of silence. Maybe the next shooting will be the one that spurs them to a moment of action.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.